As I watched game seven, it looked more and more like the inevitable. For many summers during his inevitable Hall of Fame career, Nick Lidstrom weighed the battle between seeing his children grow up in his native Sweden against playing another season for the Red Wings. Like clockwork, Lidstrom always chose the Red Wings over his family. The same club that truly owed nothing to the player that spent 20 seasons being one of its top ambassadors, number 5 might have one of the most difficult decisions in his career staring him in the face – and as all Wings fans begin to get past that difficult loss to San Jose – we must all recognize on what life looks like without Nicklas Lidstrom.
He’s been called the NHL Player of the Decade and the Best European-Trained Player Ever. A rare player that transcended the respect of his own city, the recent NHL All-Star Game acknowledgement was the NHL’s way of awarding Lidstrom for his years of service to the league. Combine that recognition with the Norris trophies that seemed to find its way into Lidstrom’s hands every offseason, and the player that has held the point for the Wings for a span of two decades, has made an incredible impact on the league.
When Bobby Orr retired due to his aching knees, he was considered a catalyst for the changing of the defenseman position. Whenever Lidstrom decides to retire, it’s fair to think that he will also be considered a revolutionary at his position. The Red Wings have one of the most polished power plays and it’s because of Lidstrom’s leadership and poise that has made this possible.
So, what happens after Lidstrom? Naturally, I’ve got to believe that the Red Wings join the rest of the NHL and anoint a “young” star like Henrik Zetterberg to the role. “Z” is a modern day mix of Yzerman’s defensive skills with the passing ability of Lidstrom. In a city where the captain’s “C” means more than other cities, Zetterberg would be the right individual to continue the legacy. Along with another banner finding its way to the rafters for his jersey retirement, and Lidstrom’s legacy as a Wing would be comparable to the likes of Yzerman and Howe.