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Niklas Lidstrom is undeniably one of the best defensemen to play the game
The Central division could be the most talented division in the National Hockey League. The Chicago Blackhawks have three potential Hall of Famers in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. It remains to be seen just how good Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash will be but he has become a star despite playing on weak teams year in and year out.
Of course, it is the Detroit Red Wings who lead the list with as many as five possible future inductees and it is without a doubt that the player who will be a member of the Hall of Fame is the captain of the Red Wings, Niklas Lidstrom.
Lidstrom, selected by Detroit in the third round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, is in his 20th season with the Red Wings. It may be easier to list the records the 41-year-old defenseman does not hold. However, he is the holder of 11 team records, some of which include most points in a season by a defenseman (80), most post season goals in a career (54), most post season assists in a career (129), most post season points in a career (183), most post season games played (258), most games played in a career by a defenseman (1,506), most career goals (258), assists (860) and points by a defenseman (1,118), Best career plus/minus (431), most points in a single post season by a defenseman (19), most goals in a post season by a defenseman (6), and Best career post season plus/minus (plus-61).
As for league accomplishments, the native of Vasteras, Sweden is the first European born and trained blue liner to win the Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman). He is the first European born and trained player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, to captain a team to the Stanley Cup, first European born and trained defenseman to score 1,000 points, first European born player to play over 1500 games, and he is the active leader in games played.
The awards and achievements are absolutely mind boggling. They include: 1992 All Rookie Team, two time Second Team All Star (2009, 2010), ten time First Team All Star (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011), 12 All Star Games (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), seven Norris Trophies, and four Stanley Cups.
Internationally, Lidstrom has represented Sweden nine times, including four Winter Olympic Games. He has won four medals, including gold at the 1991 World Championships and the 2006 Olympics.
The statistics bear witness as to why The Hockey News named him the second greatest defenseman in the history of the game in 2007. When Niklas Lidstrom retires, the Hall will be calling.