Just a few days ago, Nicklas Lidstrom celebrated his 42nd birthday and a main issue for the Red Wings this offseason is whether or not he is going to retire. After the Nashville Predators bounced Detroit in five games in the first round the playoffs, it was reported that Barry Trotz, the Preds head coach, told Lidstrom "Please don't retire."
One has to wonder whether or not Lidstrom still has the talent to play at an elite level in the NHL. His production dropped severely this year, and for the first time in his career, he failed to register a point in the playoffs. His 34 points in the regular season were 28 points fewer than last year, and since 1999-00, Lidstrom has averaged 68 points a year, making his production this season a dramatic decrease.
He also only played 70 games this season, which is the fewest he has played since 1994-95. A nagging bone bruise on his right ankle caused him to miss the time.
The real question here is: Does he have anything more to prove? Lidstrom will without a doubt be a first ballot Hall of Famer, and his four Stanley Cup rings are the same amount that the entire Chicago Blackhawks franchise has.
He has won seven Norris Trophies, which is the award given to the NHL's top defenseman, and has been nominated for the award a total of 12 times in the last 14 seasons. In 2002, Lidstrom won the Conn Smythe trophy for the NHL playoff MVP, which made him the first-ever European-born player to win the award.
Lidstrom has been the team captain since 2006, and is only the franchise's second captain since 1986, with Steve Yzerman being the other.
It's hard to argue that there has been another player more important to Hockeytown than Lidstrom since he joined the team during the 1991-92 season. If he accepts a pay cut, I believe that he will come back for one final year, but what I am afraid of is him pulling a Chris Chelios and playing way longer than he should have.
Chelios played his final game with the Atlanta Thrashers at the age of 48, and although it was an absolutely unbelievable feat, he had no business being in the league and was used as more of a publicity stunt by the Thrashers organization to try and attract fans.
I don't want to see something like this happen to Lidstrom. He has played far too long and has been too important to the city of Detroit to risk playing a few more seasons.
I understand that he probably wants to take one more chance at going out on top, but he has have nothing left to prove, and he has been one of the greatest defensemen to ever lace up the skates.
Nicklas, retire now, and don't risk any further injury.
What is your take on this, Hockeytown?