End Of An Era: Nick Lidstrom Announces Retirement

Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:29 PM
By Tom Callahan - Nashville Predators / Tom Callahan's 2011-12 Season Blog
After 20 seasons with one franchise, Nicklas Lidstrom has called it a career. Four Stanley Cups, seven Norris trophies, 2002 Conn Smythe trophy, a gold medal with his native Sweden… yes, you could say it’s been an amazing journey. A Hall-Of-Fame-caliber career for certain. And one guy everyone in the world of hockey will miss.

While I only called games over the last four years of his career, Lidstrom represents a lot of things for me. I felt like he was the consummate professional both on and off the ice. He played hard, at a high level, and was respected around the league for the way he represented himself and his team. He even respected the media (trust me, that’s a major deal… and pretty rare. I sometimes think we’re seen more as flies than anything else.) and went out of his way to thank us in his speech today. He respected you and your profession by considering every question and responding thoughtfully. If nothing else I’ll miss his insights and professionalism filtering into my microphone every single game against the Wings. He was always a great quote.

On top of it all, Lidstrom was an amazing player. I’ve heard and read people saying he didn’t do anything great but did everything well. I disagree. Lidstrom did everything great. But his game was subtle when it was at its best. How do you measure proper gap control over a 20-year career? How many times did you see him get outworked or out-thought in any situation? How many times did it feel like the roof would cave in on the Red Wings during a scramble and suddenly #5 moved them to safety? That to me is where hisexcellence lay: moving the puck, making the smart play or pass, getting shots through, seeing the ice, playing the high-speed chess match two moves ahead of almost everyone else. He was a truly great player that we had the privilege to watch more often than most thanks to the Wings being in our division and a few playoff matchups.

An era has definitely ended, and practically it can’t help but affect the rest of the NHL. The Wings now have another $6M+ in the coffers for this year, and will be seeking a prime free agent defenseman. Will Ryan Suter test the waters this year? If he does you can be sure the Wings will be at the forefront of teams trying to woo him. Plus there could now be a very real shift of power in the Central Division if the Wings don’t adequately replace his presence on the blue line… and with few exceptions, how could you?

Other matters of course: his jersey in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena, a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and a career writ large as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

Yes, we were indeed privileged to watch this great person and player do so well for so long under an intense spotlight. His legacy will be one of leadership and solid example. And his void will be massive all over the league. Congratulations on a wonderful career Nick.


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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
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