#5 – 1 Of A Kind

Last Thursday Nicklas Lidstrom announced his retirement from the Detroit Red Wings.  He has closed the hockey playing chapter of his life.  He closed yet another historic chapter in the history book of the Detroit Red Wings.  And he opened a new chapter, a new door into a retirement he has more than earned.

For 20 seasons Nick has ruled on the Detroit blue line.  Four Stanley Cups.  Seven Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman.  An Olympic gold medal representing Sweden.  A world championship.  He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 2002.  He was a 12-time NHL all-star.  He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1992.  He holds numerous records for both the NHL and the Detroit Red Wings.  His most important achievement, I think, is the respect he has earned from fellow players and fans all around the NHL and the world hockey stage.  Whether you played with him or against him, he was considered one of the smartest defenseman to ever play the game.  He was a proven leader on and off the ice.  By now, everything that can be said of him after his retirement announcement has been said.  All that remains are the comparisons made to him that will be made for the rest of the future of the NHL.

He was part of a core of Red Wing history that saw the team win four Stanley Cups.  He is the last remaining Red Wing from that era other than Tomas Holmstrom, and it’s no wonder Red Wings fans feel an almost indescribable loss right now.

The Red Wings number 5 will be hung from the rafters at Joe Louis Arena next season.  Nick is planning on returning home to his native Sweden.  That jersey and number retirement ceremony may be the last we see of Nicklas Lidstrom for quite some time if not forever, but he deserves this.  We Red Wings fans deserve this.  The NHL deserves this.  Hell, all of MANKIND deserves this.  Nicklas Lidstrom is in two classes – He is in the same class as Steve Yzerman and Gordie Howe,  and he is in a class all by himself.

Nick has been the epitome of what a professional athlete should be and we may never see his kind again.  He played 20 seasons without controversy.  Without a complaint.  With one team.  He worked through the rigors of many years when the team’s performance was terrible.  He became a real leader as the Red Wings emerged into a perennial success beginning in the mid 90’s.  A true consummate professional, always approachable by the media, always taking the time to talk to people and he immersed himself in many Red Wings charities.  He was a true embassador for hockey.  The NHL is losing one of its all-time best people.  The NHL Hall of Fame will soon be gaining a prized example of everything a real hockey player and human being should be.

Nicklas Lidstrom is part of every great Red Wing memory I have.  He has been a living legend for so many seasons, and when he is gone from the game he will leave a void that most likely will go unfilled for a long time.  His legacy is one of true sportsmanship and greatness and those of us who witnessed his career are better hockey fans because of him.  A lot of us are better people because of him.

Relax and enjoy your deserved retirement, Number 5.  Detroiters, Michiganders and the entire hockey world wish you the best of everything.  And we collectively thank you for everything you have given to us these past 20 seasons.

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5 Comments

  1. Farewell #5, you will be missed! He was the smartest hockey player I ever saw! And your right,, he is in a class all by himself. What a career, what a player, what a legacy.

    Reply
    • KDawg

       /  June 3, 2012

      Dat’s right, MinkMush…you recognize a great hockey player when you see one!

      Reply
  2. Great post! I had to reblog it because you wrote it so well! HE is a great leader on and off the ice. A man who played with class and a true professional! Well written blog post, thank you!

    Reply
    • KDawg

       /  June 3, 2012

      Thanks, James, for your comment and kind words (and for reblogging!). We’re all going to miss Nick, but we also know he’ll be happy taking his family back to Sweden…I wish I could go with him! Great memories of a great human being. I will miss him in a Red Wing uniform.

      Reply
  3. Reblogged this on James Bauslaugh's TEAM and commented:
    A Leader on and off the ice. This blog does a great job of commending a great leader and person! He will go down as one of the best defensemen to ever play the game.

    Reply

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