Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will reportedly retire on Thursday, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, after a 20-year career in which he became arguably the best defenseman to ever play in the NHL:
Source just confirmed to me Nicklas Lidstrom is retiring after 20 seasons in NHL.— Helene St. James (@freepwings) May 30, 2012
Lidstrom's outstanding career resume is highlighted by seven Norris Trophies as the league's best defenseman and four Stanley Cup championships. In 2008, he became the first European captain to win the Stanley Cup. He also won the 2002 Conn Smythe awards.
Lidstrom will finish with 1,142 points in 1,564 games played during his remarkable career.
Lidstrom will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection and was a model of consistency throughout his career. Even at age 42 this season, he still played at a high level as a No. 1-caliber defenseman.
Legendary NHL head coach Scotty Bowman, who won three Stanley Cups with Lidstrom and the Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002, had nothing but praise for Lidstrom on Wednesday, as Dave Shoalts of the Globe and Mail tweeted:
Scotty Bowman on Nicklas Lidstrom a couple of minutes ago: He was one of a kind. Hardly ever missed a game and rarely caught up the ice.— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) May 30, 2012
Bowman said Lidstrom was one of smartest players ever and best part of his game was operating on offensive blue line. No bad decisions.— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) May 30, 2012
Lidstrom always seemed to be in good position, he played physical without taking penalties and could put up strong offensive numbers, too. He was the perfect defenseman. His intelligence and composure on the ice was simply amazing.
His No. 5 jersey will certainly be retired to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena in the near future, and his career accomplishments will forever be remembered in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day, so all fans can learn about one of the greatest players ever.
Nicklas Lidstrom has set the example for future NHL players of how to be an elite player on the ice, and a true professional off of it.