I started playing playing hockey when I was three years old.
Growing up in St. Louis, I immediately fell in love with the St. Louis Blues. I was able to watch the Blues be lead by captains such as Chris Pronger, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and now David Backes.
Being a Blues fan, I learned to hate the Red Wings almost immediately. Every game was intense. Games would feel like it was Game 7. And it frustrated me to see that Nicklas Lidstrom would be able to lead his team better than ours, doing so with an A on his chest.
Lidstrom is a lead-by-example player. Lidstrom won all four of his Stanley Cup rings wearing either the A or C on his chest. 11 of his 12 All-Star appearances were in a leadership role with the Red Wings.
Lidstrom is a 7-time Norris Trophy winner, awarded to the best all-around defenseman. That type of recognition doesn't just happen to any player. Only the elite of the elite get that kind of hardware.
The stats speak for themselves—but there are also aspects that stats can't explain.
Lidstrom has the heart of a hockey player. He gives everything to the ice. Lidstrom holds his players accountable, while also making sure that he motivates his players. He does what a captain and team player needs to do to make a team.
Lidstrom is arguably the best defenseman in the history of the NHL, and definitely the best in my generation. I am glad to have seen that kind of dedication and elitism growing up.
Lidstrom showed what it meant to be a leader. Even being a Blues fan, I'm glad to have seen him in his prime, and will be sad to see him no longer on the ice.
The hockey world will be different now that this Hall of Fame career is over.