Detroit Red Wings: Lidstrom's Shot At Hockey History

Matt EichelSenior Writer IMay 23, 2008

Niklas Lidstrom.

Three-time Stanley Cup winner.

2002 Conn Smythe winner.

Five-time Norris Trophy winner.

Ten-time NHL All-Star.

Olympic Gold Medal in 2006.

Can a career have any more accomplishments for one of hockey's greatest all-time defensemen?

And to think, this guy wanted to become an engineer at age 20.

"I finished school in Sweden when I was 20 to become an engineer, but I didn't fulfill the course because I came here [North America] instead." admits Lidstrom.

In Detroit, Niklas Lidstrom has built a reputation in the NHL as one of the steadiest, consistent and productive defensemen in the league every season. On a Detroit team that seems to be the place to be for Swedish and European talent these days, Lidstrom fits right into the mold.

He fits in so well, in fact, that he wears a "C" on his right shoulder.

"To appreciate the subtleties of how talented and consistent he is, you have to watch him every day," says Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.  "He's not about flashy.  He's about substance."

Not flashy, yet so many accolades have followed Lidstrom and piled up room on his NHL resume.

And now, Lidstrom has a shot at possible hockey history: the first European captain to claim hockey's ultimate prize.

"It would mean a lot." admits Lidstrom.

"But it's still secondary to being able to win the Cup again and getting another ring."

Even though in the presence of immortality as the first European captain to win the Stanley Cup, humility comes first in Lidstrom's game.

"He's probably one of the greatest defensemen ever to play the game." admits Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar. "He's always pretty much in a perfect position."

And it's hard to stop a defender who knows where to be.  

Since his NHL debut in 1991, Lidstrom has rarely been seen on the scratched list, missing a career-high six straight games this season with a lower body injury.  Yet, Lidstrom's consistency and hard work paid off and showed hockey fans how much of a competitor and a leader Lidstrom is.

Now, the 38-year old defender can walk in the steps of former teammate and captain Steve Yzerman.  After breaking Yzerman's team record for playoff games with 198 this post-season and then passing Jari Kurri for most playoff games played by a European with 201 also this post-season, Lidstrom has rode success all the way to yet another Stanley Cup final.

And this year, he doesn't want the same outcome as befell the Red Wings in 1995.

Yet, the soft-spoken Lidstrom still carries on, night after night, playing defensive hockey with an offensive upside.

Engineer of NHL defensemen?

Looks like Lidstrom picked the right career.