Nicklas Lidstrom retires after 20 seasons with Red Wings
By LARRY LAGE AP Sports Writer May 31, 2012 11:30AM
DETROIT — Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom retired Thursday after 20 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, ending one of the best careers in NHL history.
The four-time Stanley Cup champion and seven-time Norris Trophy winner fought back tears as he made the announcement.
“My drive and motivation are not where to need to be to play at this level,” Lidstrom said.
The 42-year-old Lidstrom, a Swede, played for the Red Wings in each of his 20 seasons and set an NHL record by playing 1,564 games with one team. He put retirement on hold in each of the previous two years by signing one-year contracts.
“I’ve been dreading this day since I became manager in 1997,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
Lidstrom had 34 points and a plus-21 rating that ranked among the league leaders last season. He missed a career-high 11 games with a bruised right ankle and was out for another game with the flu. He had 264 career goals with 1,142 points and a 450-plus rating.
“Retiring today allows me to walk away with pride, rather than have the game walk away from me,” said Lidstrom, whose oldest of four sons moved to Sweden two years ago to attend school and play hockey.
Lidstrom was named the NHL’s best defenseman last year for a seventh time, matching Doug Harvey’s total and trailing Bobby Orr’s record by one. When Lidstrom won his final Norris Trophy last summer, he was a finalist for the 11th time in 13 seasons.
The four-time Olympian also scored the gold-medal winning goal for Sweden over Finland in 2006. He became the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup in 2008, six years after being the first from Europe to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs MVP.
His 6-foot-2, 190-pound body is chiseled thanks to a year-round workout that includes exercise before practice and after games along with a sensible diet that includes only occasional slices of pizza and fast food. Lidstrom’s teammates call him “The Perfect Human,” in part because he’s as humble as he is successful on the ice.
“It’s one of the most emotional days in Red Wings history with Nick retiring and all you people showing your respect for such a high-quality individual,” Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said at a packed news conference that included a slew of team employees wearing Lidstrom’s No. 5 red jersey with a winged wheel.