Tag Archives: nicklas lidstrom

Lidstrom went from thinking he would not make the team to having his number retired alongside Red Wing greats

DETROIT >> When Nicklas Lidstrom signed his first contract with the Detroit Red Wings all he was worried about was just making the team.

Thursday night he became a permanent fixture amongst the rafters at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings organization honored Lidstrom prior to the game against the Colorado Avalanche by retiring his No. 5.

“When I first came over I think I signed a three-year contract and I was just hoping to make the team,” Lidstrom said. “I didn’t know anything about the team, except for Stevie (Yzerman) being on it.

“I was just hoping to make the team and see what happens,” Lidstrom continued. “If I didn’t make it, I could always go back and play in Sweden, but I wanted to make a career out of it over here, but I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to do it.”

Lidstrom was more than good enough.

Lidstrom, who spent all 20 seasons of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, will go down as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history.

He helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups in 11 seasons.

He won seven Norris Trophies, one less than legendary Bobby Orr, and is a member of the exclusive “Triple-Gold” club, winning both an Olympic gold medal (2006) and an IIHF World Championship (1991) with Sweden.

“Seven Norris Trophies, that’s not by accident, he’s just that good,” his former coach Mike Babcock said. “For Nick it was always about the team. You never had any trouble with Nick as the coach because he was always prepared and motivated. Nick brought it every single day. He set an example for all of us in professionalism, perfection, work ethic, being a good human being and doing it without ego.”

Lidstrom was selected in the third round (53rd overall) by the Wings in 1989 and is one of five Wings who played on all four of Detroit’s Stanley Cup championship teams since 1997.

“I played with Larry Robinson,” former teammate Chris Chelios said. “I played against (Raymond) Bourque. You go even further with Doug Harvey, but in my opinion there couldn’t have been anyone better than Nicklas Lidstrom.

“His demeanor was really something,” Chelios continued. “Because of the passion I played with, I got too high, too low. Nick kept it at an even keel. Watching Nick and the effect he had on players, not losing his composure, never panicking, I slowly but surely, like the rest of the team, caught onto that.”

Lidstrom, who was selected for 12 NHL All-Star Games and was named to the league’s first All-Star team 10 times between 1998 and 2011, missed only 46 out of a possible 1,873 games since launching his NHL career in 1991.

“We’ve been so blessed with icons here – Stevie, Nick, the list goes on,” Niklas Kronwall said. “He made you better. He just made the game so easy for you. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t know how anybody could do that, really. What we saw with Nick, I think it’s going to take a while before we see anything like that again.”

“I can’t even put into words, just because he meant so much, not only in this dressing room and for this organization but out in the community, too,” Jimmy Howard said. “He did a lot for this city. I think it’s a perfect ending to such a great career he had.”

In 1,564 regular-season games, Lidstrom finished with 264 goals and 878 assists. In 263 playoff games, which is a team record, he totaled 54 goals and 129 assists.

Only Wings legend Gordie Howe (1,687 games) has appeared in more Wings’ games than Lidstrom.

Lidstrom, who became the first European player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002, spent his final six seasons as the Wings’ captain after taking over for Yzerman.

“During the national anthem each and every night I get an opportunity to look up and I always seem to notice the banners that are hanging there,” said Babcock, who coached Lidstrom for the final seven seasons of his career. “And there are an elite few players, spectacular players. When you’re fortunate to be around one as great a person and athlete as Nick is, it’s pretty special.

“I arrived when he was 35, and most guys are done at 35, and he won the Norris Trophy four (more) times,” Babcock added. “He was OK.”

Lidstrom said he misses a lot of the everyday things that was his career for 20 seasons.

“I think the part that sticks out the most are the Stanley Cups,” Lidstrom said. “We went to six Stanley Cup Finals and we won four Stanley Cups. I think those are the ones that stick out the most, just all of the memories from some of the game situations when you’re late in the winning game to win the Stanley Cup or right after, the parades that we had here through downtown Detroit. All those memories are still very strong to me.”

Lidstrom’s career plus/minus of plus-450 ranks eighth in league history. He posted a minus rating only once (minus-2 in 2010-11).

Lidstrom’s number is the seventh retired by the Wings and all six of the previous honorees – Terry Sawchuk (1), Ted Lindsay (7), Gordie Howe (9), Alex Delvecchio (10), Sid Abel (12) and Steve Yzerman (19) – are all members of the Hall of Fame.

Lidstrom is a year away from becoming eligible to enter the Hall of Fame.

“I’ve been looking up at the rafters for a long time and seeing those names and it’s a little surreal that my name is going to be going up there, too, and it’s a tremendous honor to have my name up there as well. It just seems so much bigger than I imagined,” Lidstrom said.

“I thought it was legends being up there, looking at Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk and you go down the line. Stevie’s up there. It’s just such a tremendous honor to have my jersey up there as well.”

Lidstrom was asked what number he wanted if he made the team out of training camp and he said he wore No. 9 in Sweden. When told that wasn’t going to happen, Lidstrom was handed No. 5.

And now No. 9 and No. 5, along with No. 1, No. 7, No. 10, No. 12 and No. 19 will hang in the rafters forever.

HBO begins filming for 24/7 series

DETROIT – The HBO cameras were at practice for the first time, preparing to start filming for the series “24/7”.

“I really liked (the show), it was pretty cool,” Brendan Smith said. “What I’ve told people is it’s interesting to see some of these tough guys or goons or chippy kind of players and then they’re kind of soft hearted sweethearts back home with their families. It’s cool to see other people’s sides and what they’re like on different teams and how they hold themselves, so it’s a pretty cool experience and it’ll be cool for people to see what our team is like.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock isn’t a big fan, but he’ll do his part.

“I just know my kids, I remember a few years back, thought it was awesome,” Babcock said. “To be honest with you I can go without it totally, but doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m just hoping someone else is first star.”

Babcock recalled players tending to shy away during the taping of Nicklas Lidstrom 360.

“No one would go near him,” Babcock said. “I assume since these guys are around here for so long you become immune to it a little bit. Obviously, just like in your own life do you want everything on TV or YouTube, or is there anything you do that you don’t want it to be (broadcast). It’s the same for these guys. That’s part of promoting the sport so they feel it’s a good thing for the sport.”

Lidstrom in; Yzerman, Fedorov next?

DETROIT — With the official announcement of Nicklas Lidstrom returning to play in the Winter Classic alumni game, the question remains if Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov will follow.

“At some point I’m going to reach out to Steve,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Let’s get these other people lined up and then tell Steve. Obviously, Steve knows the game is going on. He knows everyone wants him to play. I haven’t officially asked him. I’ve sort of, on occasion, cracked some jokes, but at some point and time here, once we get out of training camp and the season gets up and running I’ll officially reach out and see what he’s thinking.”

There are 44 players committed so far according to Holland.

“If the Winter Festival were last year (Fedorov) was in,” Holland said. “He’s interested. I think depending on how his team is doing as we get closer. We have our fingers crossed that it’s going to work.”

Fedorov is the general manager of HC CSKA Moscow that competes in the KHL.

As expected, Colaiacovo clears waivers and will be bought out by Wings

DETROIT – Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo cleared unconditional waivers and the final year of his contract will be bought out by the Wings.

The moves sheds $2.5 million off Detroit’s salary cap for next season.

Teams are permitted two amnesty buyouts that can be used this summer or next summer.

They would be able to buy out a player at two-thirds of the remaining value of the contract and not have any of the salary count against the salary cap.

Colaiacovo’s actual salary is $2.85 million next season, which means the Wings will pay him roughly $1.9 million over the next two seasons.

Colaiacovo, 30, was not the top-tier defenseman the Wings were looking for last offseason, but was the best option left on free-agent market.

The Wings were in need of a top four defenseman last offseason after losing Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade) this offseason.

And the biggest concern when he signed was his health and that surfaced again this year.

Colaiacovo, who has yet to play more than 67 games in any season, played in just six regular season games after suffering a sprained left shoulder in just the second game of the lockout shortened season.

He wound up playing just six games during the regular season, recording an assist and was a minus-4.

Jonathan Ericsson has grown into his spot on the Wings’ top blue line pair

DETROIT – Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson thought for a moment about all the blue liners he had been paired up with over his six seasons with the Wings.

And there are a lot of them, which is why it’s understandable how he feels as stable as ever with whom he’s paired with now … Niklas Kronwall.

“I’m fortunate to play with him,” Ericsson said after the Wings’ morning skate at Joe Louis Arena Monday. “He’s our best defenseman by far. He’s always doing a good job for us every night. He makes it easy for me. We have a good way of communicating out there and we feed off each other and he makes things more comfortable for me out there.

“The more you play with each other the more comfortable you get,” Ericsson added. “When you keep switching it takes some time, but you learn. Maybe it doesn’t come right away, but it does.”

Ericsson compares his fellow Swede to one of the best to ever play in the NHL, Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired this past offseason.

“He’s really close, that’s why we call him Nick junior,” Ericsson said. “This year I played with everyone at the beginning of the season and then we got stable and stuck with the three pairs. Everyone is different. They all have different roles. It’s just sticking with whatever role that is and you just have to play your game too.”

Ericsson is 6-foot-4 and was the last player taken in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. And like most of the Wings’ prospects they had him spend a number seasons overseas before bringing him to Grand Rapids.

“They always had a good D corps here so it just took a while to get in,” Ericsson said. “That’s how they develop all the players here and I think they’ve done a good job. When you get up here most players are ready to stay up and not be up and down. You have to be patient. Everything doesn’t come all at one, you just have to work your way in.”

Ericsson raised his own bar high after his second short stint in Detroit and carried that over to a strong run in the 2009 playoffs.

But then came some very inconsistent play over the next few seasons as Ericsson found himself in the Wings’ final pairing on D most of the nights.

“It took him some time,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He was a forward growing up. It took him awhile to learn the differences in the game. He played in the five-six pair, or third pair, for a number of years and played well for us. And he just kept getting better. He’s a real good person, works hard. He can make the pass, shoot the puck. He’s a big body, can fight well. We like him.”

Now with departure of a number of top four defensemen over the last few seasons, Ericsson, 29, is on the top pairing in charge of shutting down the opponent’s top units.

“With just the responsibilities that have come with that role, I think he’s been great,” Kronwall said. “Everybody in this organization knew that he could do it. They’ve known that for a few years, ever since he came in and played that great series, I think it was against Columbus, his first playoff. I think he’s really come into his own.

“(He’s) made the transition real smooth, easy,” Kronwall added. “He’s always one of those guys who wants the puck and talks a lot out there and makes it easy for you.”

Ericsson also has played a main role on the Wings’ penalty kill. Averaging over 18 minutes of ice time in the playoffs, 3:20 of it has come killing penalties.

“I don’t know how to put it in words how much he means to this club,” Kronwall said. “He’s out there playing big minutes, 5-on-5, a shut-down guy and plays obvious heavy minutes on the PK. He means a lot to this team and we’re really happy that he’s playing so well.”

Quenneville has never beaten the Wings in a playoff series as a head coach

Inside the numbers

This is the 16th playoff series between Detroit and Chicago. On nine other occasions, the team that won the series advanced to the Cup final, but lost.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has never beaten the Wings in a playoff series as a head coach. The Wings advanced to the Cup final every year after beating Quenneville’s team, winning every time except for 2009, when the Wings lost in seven to Pittsburgh.

Henrik Zetterberg is now tied for third all-time in franchise playoff goal-scoring (54) with Nicklas Lidstrom. Steve Yzerman (70) and Gordie Howe (67) top the list.

Quote of the day … Teemu Selanne

Ducks forward Teemu Selanne on playing against the Wings without Nicklas Lidstrom.

“Obviously it’s way easier to play now that Lidstrom’s not in the lineup,” Selanne said. “In the past they have had experience. But they are tough still. You have to play 60 minutes if you want to beat those guys.”

Babcock on Smith: “I just wanted the puck looked after better.”

DETROIT – Red Wings’ defenseman Brendan Smith said he didn’t see it coming.

With 11 games left in the regular season, Smith found himself a healthy scratch along the blue line. He was back watching from the sideline a game later.

“I think I’ve been playing pretty well, so it gets a little frustrating when you’re not in the lineup,” Smith said after practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. “We’re all competitive players, competitive people, so we want to be in the lineup, but for sure I want to be there, and I thought I’ve been playing pretty well. There are things that I have to work on, obviously. There are things that everybody’s got to work on, but for myself as a young player, there’s a lot more, so there are things that I have to do it if I’m in the lineup (Thursday) and make sure I stay there, but it definitely caught me off guard.”

Smith will return to the lineup Thursday in the Wings’ home game against the San Jose Sharks.

Prior to his benching, Smith was a minus-5 over his last five games, going a minus-1 in each of those contests.

“I just wanted the puck looked after better,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a better player than that. He’s had a few days to watch and think about it. I think Smitty is an ultra-competitive guy, who has a huge upside, but he’s just got to take care of the puck better.”

In 26 games this season, Smith has five assists and is a minus-1.

“I think things have to get better, just making my game a little more simple and I guess playing the Nicklas Lidstrom way – see the first pass, make it – so just working hard and try to keep positive and get myself in the lineup again,” Smith said.

Smith said he thinks this was the first time he was a healthy scratch in his playing days.

After overcoming a rash of injuries, the Wings’ blue line is suddenly crowded with nine healthy defensemen.

“It’s really competitive and we have great D, so there wasn’t much of an explanation, but, so you’ve just got to back away from the game and kind of see what you have to do to get better and then do that in the practice and then once you get the chance keep yourself in the lineup,” Smith said. “So if they throw me into the lineup against San Jose I’m just going to play my best and play hard and try to do what I can do to so I can stay in the lineup.”

Smith, who’s averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time per game this season, will replace Ian White in the lineup.

Wings would rather keep first round picks rather than obtain a rental player

DETROIT – Eight trades occurred Tuesday in the NHL, a few that involved some big names, but none of the deals involved the Detroit Red Wings.

“We made some competitive offers on a couple of players,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday night. “We will continue to explore until the deadline.”

The trade deadline is 3 p.m., Wednesday.

The Wings also weren’t able to get in the mix on some players.

The biggest name that moved Tuesday, who the Wings had interest in, was forward Jaromir Jagr, who was dealt from Dallas to Boston.

The Wings tried to sign Jagr two years ago, but lost out to Philadelphia.

The Stars’ asking price was too high for Jagr. The Bruins gave up two prospects and a conditional second-round pick to get him.

Jagr’s contract expires at the end of the season.

“I don’t know that there’s a lot (left) out there,” Holland said. “We’ll see what happens tonight and tomorrow. I think it’s been a pretty busy marketplace until now.”

The one thing the Wings seem unwilling to part with in a deal for any kind of rental player is a first-round pick.

“We traded a first-rounder last year,” Holland said. “We were going for it last year. You can’t do that every year.”
The Wings dealt a first-round pick at the trade deadline last year to Tampa Bay to re-acquire defenseman Kyle Quincey.

“We were concerned about losing (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Brad) Stuart,” Holland said. “You can’t trade your first-round pick every year. You have to pick and choose when you go for it.”

The Wings wound up falling to Nashville in the first round of the playoffs last season and then lost Lidstrom (retirement) and Stuart (trade) in the offseason.

Also on Tuesday, San Jose sent forward Ryan Clowe to the New York Rangers for a second and third round pick in 2013 and a conditional second rounder in 2014.

The Stars also sent forward Derek Roy to Vancouver for a prospect and a second-round pick.

Lidstrom helps seal the deal with DeKeyser

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings had what no other team courting prized free-agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser had in their back pocket … Nicklas Lidstrom.

The soon-to-be NHL Hall of Famer, gave DeKeyser a call Saturday prior to the Western Michigan defenseman announcing his decision of which team had won the sweepstakes for his services and it seemed to be just what the Wings needed.

“He called me the other day when I was going through the decision process and talked to me for a few minutes,” DeKeyser said after taking part in his first practice with the Wings Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. “Then I got to meet him here today. So it was pretty special. That helped in my decision definitely.

“He just told me about the organization and how special of a place it is to play,” DeKeyser added. “They have a great management team and a locker room full of great guys. He said it would be a fun place to play so I took his word for it.”

Lidstrom said the call seemed to take DeKeyser by surprise.

“Kenny (Holland) handed him the phone and told him it was me,” Lidstrom recalled. “We had a good little chat. I just told him about the positive things I’ve seen and learned over the years here with the team.

“I don’t think he was ready for my call,” Lidstrom continued. “I don’t think he was expecting me to call him. It was more listening to what I had to say. He had a lot of teams that were asking for him and had meetings with a lot of teams so I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for him. We’re very happy to have him here.”

Lidstrom is in town for a few days before a family vacation to Florida.

DeKeyser, 23, was one of the NHL’s most sought-after free agents last year before deciding to stay at WMU.

That again was the case this year where DeKeyser’s representatives met with a number of teams over this past week, including Toronto, Anaheim, St. Louis, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Nashville.

DeKeyser wore No. 5 in college, the same number Lidstrom had in Detroit.

He’ll be No. 65 with the Wings.

“I definitely grew up a big Wings fan and to have a chance to play for you hometown team is definitely something special so it’s definitely a good opportunity for me,” said DeKeyser, who grew up in Macomb County and graduated from De La Salle. “I’m going to come in, get my feet wet a little bit, practice here this week and just take it from there.

“It was tough decision,” DeKeyser added. “I could have picked a lot of reasons to go to any of those teams, but ultimately in the end I thought this was the best choice for me. I just looked at what some of the best places would be like to play for and what they had one the blue line and where I would fit in. Here there are quite a few young guys and a good group of veterans. I thought it would be a good fit for me.”

It’s not known when DeKeyser will get his chance to play, but it won’t be Sunday against Chicago.

“I want to be a big part of the team here,” DeKeyser said. “I just have to work hard and that’s all I can do then we’ll see what happens from there. I need to get adjusted to the next level. Guys are a little bit bigger and stronger and quicker so that’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment there for me, but I think and can come in here and be fine.”

In three seasons at WMU, DeKeyser, who was undrafted, appeared in 118 games and had 12 goals, 37 assists and 107 penalty minutes.

“He’s obviously good, good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “At his level he’s been a dominant player there for the last two years and we’re excited to have him. He hasn’t practiced since Tuesday, so that will take him a little bit. He’ll watch tomorrow. We’ll probably put him in warm-up tomorrow, or whatever, and just go from there.”

DeKeyser skated with Kyle Quincey in practice.

“You see a guy play at one level and he’s a dominant player,” Babcock said. “Now he’s got to be able to turn that from there into being a dominant player at this level. There’s a process there. The other thing about it is we started the year with no depth on D and then suddenly we’ve got all of these guys on D.