Nicklas Lidstrom Retiring: 5 Potential Captains for the Detroit Red Wings
The 42-year-old joined the Red Wings for the 1991-1992 season after being drafted 53rd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.
The Swedish blueliner quickly established himself as a defensive stalwart and an offensive threat, and earned an "A" on his sweater prior to the start of the 1996-1997 season.
The Red Wings named Lidstrom the 31st captain in franchise history and the team's first ever European captain after the 20-year reign of Steve Yzerman ended in 2006 with his retirement.
Lidstrom captained the Red Wings to two Western Conference Championships (2008, 2009), one Stanley Cup (2008) and one President's Trophy (2008) during his tenure. Individually, he won the Norris trophy seven times, three additional Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe trophy in 2002 and an Olympic gold medal in 2006. He appeared in 12 NHL all-star games.
Lidstrom holds the 50th spot on the NHL's all-time scoring leaders list, ranks sixth all-time among defensemen and trails only Mats Sundin on the all-time scoring leaders list among Swedish players.
With the retirement of Lidstrom, speculation of who will be named his replacement becomes a burning question for the Red Wings organization. Superstars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both play big roles in Detroit and serve as assistant captains, but perhaps another player will earn the "C."
Replacing Lidstrom is nearly impossible, but the Red Wings boast several worthy candidates to captain their team.
A potential but unlikely candidate for captaincy is power forward Johan Franzen.
"The Mule" provides the Red Wings with an imposing net-front presence and tremendous defensive zone play.
The 31-year-old is a legitimate 25+ goal scorer when healthy who doesn't shy away from the rough stuff.
Franzen is a favorite among fans for his postseason play and his knack for scoring big goals.
You just ran into a KronWALL!
Sorry, couldn't resist.
Niklas Kronwall currently serves as an assistant captain for Detroit and exploded for 15 goals from the blue line this season.
Detroit fans know Kronwall as a heavy-hitter who logs plenty of minutes on defense.
The former first-round draft pick signed a seven-year extension with Detroit last October, proving he is of value to the team.
While the "C" is likely to go to either Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk, if the Red Wings want to keep the captain on the blue line, 31-year-old Niklas Kronwall is the logical choice.
Okay, time to get serious.
The Red Wings selected Pavel Datsyuk with the 171st overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
It's kind of like when you find an old record in your parents' basement of a group you've never heard of, only to find out it is worth thousands of dollars.
Datsyuk developed into an extremely talented two-way forward, winning the Lady Byng trophy four times, the Selke trophy three times and making four appearances in an NHL All-Star game.
The 33-year-old scored only 19 goals last season, but recorded 48 assists and a plus-21 rating.
Datsyuk never fails to impress in the shootout and often embarrasses defenders with his quick, soft hands and above average hockey sense.
If the US government could solve problems like the Red Wings draft, there would be no recession, gas would still cost $1.00 a gallon and there would probably be a space station on Mars.
The Red Wings selected Henrik Zetterberg 210th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
Since then, Zetterberg has become one of the Red Wings most lethal scorers and a big fan-favorite.
Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe trophy in Detroit's 2008 Cup-winning season and has served as an assistant captain for Detroit since the 2005-2006 season.
Zetterberg scored 22 times and added 47 assists with a plus-14 rating for Detroit last season. If the Red Wings want to start a new Swedish captain tradition, there is no doubt Zetterberg should be Detroit's next captain.
To avoid a whole #TeamZetterberg/#TeamDatsyuk split in Red Wings nation, maybe the team will decide to hold off on naming Lidstrom's replacement.
The team could easily keep Kronwall, Datsyuk and Zetterberg as assistant captains by not designating a captain.
While this is unlikely, and the "C" will likely go to either Datsyuk or Zetterberg, hopefully a snub won't create a rift in the locker room.
Wearing the "C" for any NHL team is an honor, but serving as captain of a storied "Original 6" franchise like the Detroit Red Wings is even more special. Following in the footsteps of Lidstrom and Yzerman before him, whoever the team names as its next captain has some big shoes... er, skates to fill.