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Brian Rafalski retired this week despite a year remaining on his contract
Coming into this offseason, Detroit fans knew what to expect from Lidstrom regarding a retirement decision. However, even Ken Holland was surprised to hear of 37-year-old Brian Rafalski's retirement.
What does this have to do with Lidstrom's decision? Whether he is still capable of playing at the NHL level isn't even a valid question. Lidstrom, much like his predecessor, Steve Yzerman, wouldn't leave the Red Wings at a time when he was needed, and right now, Lidstrom is needed.
Rafalski's retirement opened up $6 million in cap room, which many Detroit fans will say is more than he was worth after several knee and back injuries. $6 million can buy Detroit a very good replacement defender, such as upcoming unrestricted free agent Kevin Bieksa.
However, if Lidstrom were to retire, the Red Wings would need to find another top defender in a rather bare group of free agent defensemen. Also, one could wonder that bringing in two new top defenders would almost be too much change for the Red Wings' blue line.