He's quiet, reserved and hardly gets a penalty during a game. In fact, you hardly know he's on the ice until the announcer says, "No. 5 has it at the blue line, he shoots.......HE SCORES!!!
That's Nicklas Lidstrom, the Detroit Red Wings Captain and top defenseman.
Lidstom, 37, has been with Red Wings since joining the NHL in 1991. This season, he is fifth in assists in the NHL with 60 and has a plus/minus of +40, second behind teammate, Pavel Datsyuk. But his stats don't end there.
In 1252 NHL games, Lidstrom has scored 212 goals and had 726 assists for a total of 938 points. His plus/minus is +378 and has 106 power-play goals, 10 short-handed goals and 29 game winners.
Entering his 16th year in the NHL, he has won the Norris Trophy five times and the Conn Smythe Trophy at the end of the 2001-2 season. He has played in more games than any other player. He has had nine All-Star game appearances and has won the the Lord Stanley's Cup three times, in 1997, 1998 and 2002. Lidstrom has also won a gold medal with the Swedish Olympic team in 2006. Only missing 22 games during his career, he has the highest percentage, 98.2%, among players who have 1000 or more games under their belts.
During October 2006, Lidstrom was named the Captain of the Red Wings after the retirement of Steve Yzerman. Yzerman's reign, as Captain in Detroit, lasted 20 years, the longest in NHL history, and Lidstrom, following in the footsteps of his former captain, is a solid leader on the ice. Not making a big deal out of much and setting an example for the rest of his team and the league to follow.
Since his start in the NHL in 1991, Lidstrom has amassed some amazing statics, starting with his rookie season. He was named to the NHL All-Rookie team. He also holds records in assists and total points in a single Red Wing season (64 and 80, respectively, in the 2005-6 season) and is tied for the most assists (4) by a defenseman in a single Red Wing game. Like the Bible can't contain all the works that Jesus performed during his life on Earth, this article can't come close to what Lidstrom has accomplished in the NHL. He is a giant when it comes to hockey.
Standing 6'1" and weighing in at 189 lbs, this Swedish-born player is by any means the largest, most intimidating player to don a Red Wing jersey. But in terms, of attitude and character on and off the ice, Lidstrom is larger than life. Quietly and efficiently, he goes to work, does his job extremely effectively and keeps his nose clean. In all the games that I have watched him play, I don't think I have ever witnessed him even throwing a punch, let alone get into a fight. While his teammates are scrapping and pushing the opposing players around, he just hangs on to the nearest one to keep him out of the way.
The Bottom Line
Nicklas Lidstrom doesn't get the fanfare that Yzerman or Howe did, his numbers and stats, while terrific, are not usually chart toppers, but he is, bar none, the best defensive player the game of hockey has ever seen. Performing his job, leading his team on and off the ice, and never throwing a cheap shot on an opposing player in his stellar career, this is the type of player every team in the NHL should dream about having. Good thing he's in Detroit. He's just simply the best.