He wasn’t the most flashy a player could be, or the best goal scorer. He didn’t skate the fatest, or have the best pass. He wasn’t the most physical, or the most vocal. What he was however, is consistent. Nicklas Lidstrom, former Detroit Red Wings defenceman is offically getting his number retired in March of 2014. After wearing the No. 5 for twenties years as a member of the Detroit Red Wings he is getting an honor that is only bestowed upon hockey royalty in Detroit; number retirement. He will join the likes of Yzerman, Howe, and Lindsay as some of the former Red Wing greats.
But, for Lidstrom it goes beyond just being a Red Wing great, he was the greatest defenceman outside of Bobby Orr, and he was definitely without a shadow of a doubt the greatest player of this generation or the last. He has been better then Zdeno Chara, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman, Sidney Crosby, and so many other great players. But, he didn’t do it like other players did. Lidstrom was a model of consistency and he was so good at making things look easy that it was easy to overlook him and not think of him as an important player. But, as the years went on, and the talent diminished around him Lidstrom was able to keep up the same skill level and win his 7th Norris Trophy in 2011, at the age of 41.
Players like Alex Ovechkin get all the publicity and the votes for MVP every season, but Lidstrom helped get the Red Wings to six Stanley Cup Finals, winning four of them. He did it with and without Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, and others. He helped countless overrated defenceman have the best offensive season they ever had in the league. Lidstrom was a model of consistency, he didn’t do things flashy, he didn’t speak unless he had to. Lidstrom always knew where to go and how to do things correctly without over working himself or getting himself out of position.
Nicklas Lidstrom was never a complainer, and never gave anyone credit who didn’t deserve it, he is a rare type of person in this world Because of him there is a debate about the best defenceman who ever played the game. Without Lidstrom the Detroit Red Wings definitely don’t win four Stanley Cups. Perhaps they win one or two but not four, and they definitely don’t win one of them post Steve Yzerman.
Still, even with this inevitable news, and with all the knowledge that I got to watch Lidstrom play all of his seasons in Detroit it’s sad to know that I will never watch him play again. Sure, there are highlights, and youtube isn’t going anywhere, but there is something magical about watching Lidstrom play. For a man known as ”Saint Nicklas” and “The Perfect Human” nothing more can be said. When he goes into the Hall of Fame it will be a rare occuarance where I completely agree with the enshrinement. He was a once in a life time player, and nobody will ever be able to duplicate him.