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Saturday, June 2, 2012

A brief history of Nicklas Lidstrom

SEE? I'm not the only one who can't spell it!
The NHL said goodbye to one of the greatest players in recent history on Thursday when Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom officially announced his retirement. While the announcement wasn't a surprise, it was still a difficult moment for fans who'd become used to seeing him patrol the Red Wings blueline over the past 20 seasons.

Most hockey fans can recite the numbers by now: Lidstrom won seven Norris Trophies, was a first-team all-star ten times, and won four Stanley Cups. But perhaps just as impressive, he leaves the game as one of the most-respected players of his generation. Even in this cynical age, it seems as if nobody in the hockey world has a bad word to say about the classy superstar.

Here's a look back at the NHL career of Nicklas Lidstrom.

June 17, 1989 - The Red Wings select Lidstrom with the 53rd overall pick at a draft which is perhaps best remembered for the major traffic jam that apparently caused every team in the league to miss the first 52 picks.

October 3, 1991 - Lidstrom is a team-leading +2 in his NHL debut against the Chicago Blackhawks, who immediately vow to only let him dominate them like that maybe 150 more times, max.

January 20, 1996 - A 25-year-old Lidstrom makes his NHL all-star game debut, then celebrates with fellow young all-stars Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr by taking a few swigs of that weird bubbling elixir offered to them by a cackling Chris Chelios.

November 3, 1999 - A bored Lidstrom makes a bad decision in the defensive zone, just to see what it's like.

June 13, 2002 - By becoming the first European player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and conclusively disproving the theory that players from outside North American somehow lack the drive and toughness to win in the playoffs, Lidstrom is single-handedly responsible for turning every Coach's Corner for the next decade into an identical seven minute infomercial about defensemen not deflecting slapshots with their sticks.

February 26, 2006 - Lidstrom scores the winning goal as Sweden beats Finland 3-2 to capture the Olympic gold medal, causing you to sheepishly realize that because he plays for Detroit you've spent the past decade just kind of assuming he was actually Russian.

June 30, 2006 - After Lidstrom signs an extension to remain with the Red Wings rather than become an unrestricted free agent the next day, a disappointed Glen Sather wonders what he should do with the garbage bag full of dollar bills he'd spent the last week writing "eleven gajillionty" on with a magic marker.

January 1, 2009 - The Red Wings beat the Blackhawks to win the outdoor Winter Classic. After the game, Lidstrom tells reports that he enjoyed playing in the Classic and would love to get the chance to play in another one someday, assuming it's not against some team the Red Wings are obviously going to beat 15-0 in which case why bother.

April 11, 2010 - Lidstrom ends the 2009-2010 season with 49 points and a +23 rating, finishes fourth in Norris voting, and is named to the NHL's second all-star team. Or, as it will later be unanimously remembered, the worst season of his career.

December 15, 2010 - In his 19th season in the league, Lidstrom finally records his first career hat trick, proving once and for all that there's nothing a 40-year-old guy won't do to cover up a receding hairline.

January 18, 2011 - League officials name Lidstrom a captain for the first ever NHL All-Star fantasy draft, after he's the only player to show up with a draft list that isn't just the words "Nicklas Lidstrom" printed 40 different times.

November 11, 2011 - Lidstrom takes part in a 3-0 victory over the Oilers to become the first player in NHL history to play in 900 career regular season wins, although critics point out that he still remains tied for dead last in career wins against the Detroit Red Wings.

February 4, 2012 - While he's become used to players expressing their admiration for him and urging him to continue playing, Lidstrom admits he still finds it kind of creepy when a wild-eyed Tim Thomas vows to randomly take a year off if he ever tries to retire.

May 31, 2012 - As his retirement press conference winds down, Red Wing fans around the world are forced to accept the fact that for the first time in 20 years, Nicklas Lidstrom has done something to disappoint them.

33 comments:

  1. He's not leaving. He's just reincarnating himself into a new form for the next epoch of Lidstrom, and will be back on the Red Wings soon

    The name of his next form will be "Shea Weber."

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    1. Weber fucked himself out of being a Red Wing

      Suter/Parise/Jackman/Penner should fill the void nicely though

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    2. Woah Derick, you almost sound like a Leafs fan with that crazy talk.

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  2. The November 3, 1999 line was gold.

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    1. I don't know - I kind of like "the bubbling elixer"

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  3. Even as a Blackhawks fan, it's impossible to say anything bad about Lidstrom. An absolutely amazing career. Another gem, DGB.

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  4. The last line is golden, DGB. This wasn't the funniest post ever, but it had some real meaning to it, and it was still a great one. Awesome job with this.

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  5. What a career from one of the classiest players in the sport. It's all but impossible to find anything negative to say about him, both on and off the ice.

    Maybe the Sharks should hire him as a defensive coach...

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    Replies
    1. That would ruin a bunch of sharks jokes for the future.

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  6. One of the best of all-time. A true loss for the game.

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  7. Everyone knows it's spelled "defenceman"!

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    Replies
    1. Eh, American vs. Canadian spelling...it gets messy.

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    2. THe English spell with a "c" too. So... it's just the Americans, basically. :)

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    3. Personally, I prefer to spell it with a 'z'.

      Some Canadians might argue that the correct spelling is "défenseur"...

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  8. So good. Loved "April 11, 2010" and the last one.

    What a fantastic player. I'll miss seeing him on the ice when my team plays his. I swear Detroit is a Hockey HOF factory.

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  9. DGB, you're so f**king talented, it hurts.

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  10. As a lifelong Wings fan, I can't tell you how much I appreciate seeing the outpouring of love for Lidstrom from all around the league following his retirement. I was three years old when Lidstrom debuted, and I literally cannot picture the Wings without him. He's been part of the fabric of my life as a hockey fan from the very beginning. And what a player to grow up watching! He's a great, classy player, and he will be sorely missed.

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    1. Sharks fan here. I hate the Wings - always have - but Lidstrom was one-of-a-kind, one of the greatest to ever strap on skates. The league may never see his like again. How he managed to accumulate the stats he did while still being one of the cleanest players in the league is something that I think all aspiring hockey players should study.

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    2. Your a Shark fan and Ya hate The Wings??!?!All Your team has ever tried to do was be The Wings!!Just ask Your coach!!

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    3. Actually Ryan the Sharks have tried to be better than the wings, which is why we consistently beat them.

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  11. Nikolai BorschevskyJune 2, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Not gonna lie I actually expected a reference to a certain goal where he was deked the fuck out in 1993...

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  12. Can someone explain the november 3 1999 line? wings played kings in a 1-1 tie that day.

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    Replies
    1. I believe its a take on the "Most Interesting Man in the World" Dos Equis commercials.

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  13. I don't know what happened on November 3rd, 1999, but on November 3rd, 2000, Lidstrom was a -4 in a 6-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks...

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    Replies
    1. Yeah but he retired at a cosmic +450

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    2. Honest answer: November 3 is my birthday, so whenever I need a random date to drop in to this sort of post, that's what I use.

      For Lidstrom, it ends up being a weird a coincidence that I missed his worst career game by exactly one year.

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  14. Great post! The last item is spot on.

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  15. Wasn't Mats Sundin number 1 in his draft?

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  16. Brilliant, DGB. Just f*ckin' AWESOME.

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  17. last line could not be more true

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  18. I would somewhat concur with Mr Borschevsky re his 1993 comment, although he wasn't really deked out. Nik the Stick beat him out of the corner for a lovely redirection into the net. Borschevsky was suppose to be covered by Lidstrom, but Lidstrom misses the check. In the words of Harry Neale, "Lidstrom has to take him". Perhaps Lidstrom's only blemish in his career.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. June 30, 2006 - After Lidstrom signs an extension to remain with the Red Wings rather than become an unrestricted free agent the next day, a disappointed Glen Sather wonders what he should do with the garbage bag full of dollar bills he'd spent the last week writing "eleven gajillionty" on with a magic marker.

    He then decided to take that money and sign the next guy on his list, Wade Redden.


    As a Preds fan, I'm gonna miss Lidstrom's class and respect for the game, and the immense talent he had.

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