Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 10/28/14

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 02: Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit Red Wings looks on from the bench during the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere Stockholm match between Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues at the Ericsson Globe on October 2, 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Today, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced his retirement. We take a look back on the legendary, illustrious career of No. 5.


On the morning of Game 5 in Nashville last month, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock was asked about his captain’s future. The Red Wings were trailing 3-1 to Nashville in their first-round series, and the elephant in the room was whether or not it could be Lidstrom’s final game in the NHL.
A stern Babcock, half-annoyed by the question coming just hours before an elimination game, said, “This is seven years for me that I’ve answered this question; I always say the same thing – he’s too good to quit.
“I think Nick Lidstrom retires when he thinks he’s not a good player anymore. I think he’s a pretty darn good player. I don’t know what could possibly be more fun than playing hockey at a high level on a great team.”
Later that evening, Lidstrom played over 22 minutes, blocked two shots and doled out one hit. After the final horn sounded on a 2-1 loss, Lidstrom went through the handshake line, had a long chat with Predators head coach Barry Trotz, each congratulating one another, and skated off the ice.
As it turned out, Lidstrom was skating into the sunset.
“It’s not that the tank is completely empty,” Lidstrom said at today’s retirement press conference. “I just don’t have enough to carry me through every day at the high level I want to play at. My family and I are completely comfortable with this decision. Retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride rather than have the game walk away from me.”
No. 5 had a helluva career. There’s no question he’ll go down as one of the league’s all-time greatest defensemen. Is he the best? Bobby Orr, among others, may have something to say about that.
But that’s a discussion for another day. This day is all about No. 5.
Lidstrom patrolled the Red Wings’ blue line for 20 seasons. He played in 1,564 regular season games (the most one player has ever spent with one franchise), racking up 1,142 points in the process. He played in 263 playoff games (if you think about it, that’s three extra seasons tacked on to the 20 he played) in 20 consecutive playoff appearances, winning four Stanley Cups along the way.
His individual accolades are as stunning as they are impressive.
No. 5 won a staggering seven Norris Trophies, one shy of Orr’s NHL record of eight. Lidstrom was an 11-time All-Star, won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002 and claimed Olympic Gold with Sweden in 2006.
He was the 43rd player to wear the No. 5 for the Red Wings. It’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll be the last one, too.
Watching Lidstrom this season, especially in the playoffs, he didn’t look like the same player and was affected by a nagging ankle injury. And, as Babcock suggested, maybe No. 5 doesn’t think he’s a good player anymore that can help the Red Wings win another Stanley Cup. Lidstrom’s 34-point campaign in 2011-12 was his lowest total since a lockout-shortened season in 1994-95 (26 points in 43 games).
Whatever the case may be, No. 5 is going out on his own terms and you have to respect him for that.
A lot of veteran players hold on for one, two too many years at the end of their career despite a decline in performance. Even if he wasn’t the same player as he was over the last two decades, Lidstrom was still a top ten defenseman in the NHL. Hell, he won the Norris just last season! He could probably play for another five years and be an All-Star.


How many former players can honestly say they retired when they were still one of the best at their position? Not many.
Lidstrom could have elected for one final victory lap, play in the 2013 Winter Classic in Detroit and take another shot at a fifth Stanley Cup.
Instead, he is going out on his own terms.
If there was ever a perfect hockey player, Lidstrom might be it. On the ice, he personified greatness. Off the ice, he personified class. It may be a long time before we ever see another player and individual like him in this league.
Heroes are remembered, but legends never die. Lidstrom is already a legend and will never lose that status.
We applaud No. 5 on an outstanding Hall of Fame career that may never be repeated.
Photo credit: Getty Images
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Titans WR: Mettenberger better than Big Ben at same stage

Michael Vick: Starting at QB again is a dream come true

Red Sox to reportedly target Pablo Sandoval in offseason

Alex Rodriguez's season-long MLB ban comes to an end

Madison Bumgarner pitches Giants to World Series title

Giants fans get rowdy celebrating World Series win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Roy Williams' response to criticism over academic scandal

Jerry Jones challenging Tony Romo to play Sunday?

Wizards make rapper Wale new 'creative liaison' for team

Report: Joe Maddon to become Cubs manager

Rockets Harden and Ariza visit Julius Randle in the hospital

Dan Gilbert asked if he 'deserved' to have LeBron back

WATCH: Amar'e sings with Swift for in-arena video bit

WATCH: Randle offers money for massage in jailhouse video

Top storyline for each Week 9 NFL game

WATCH: Chevy guy bombs World Series presentation

WATCH: James Ennis throws down dunk of the season

Kris Humphries shares nasty photo of gruesome finger injury

WATCH: Joe Panik makes play of the game in Game 7

Russell Westbrook wears aluminum foil-like outfit

WATCH: Capitals' Chimera suffers nasty broken nose

Robert Griffin III to start against Vikings

WATCH: Navy raps about Notre Dame, set to ‘Anaconda’

Rulon Gardner selling Olympic memorabilia to pay $3.9M debt

Red Wings News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Top storyline for each Week 9 game

Williams' response to criticism

WATCH: Chevy guy totally bombs

Bumgarner pitches Giants to title

Report: Cubs to hire Maddon as manager

Tom Brady talks Peyton Manning

Best Game 7s in World Series history

NFL, MLB spend on mid-term elections

Gurley suspended four games

Gordie Howe suffered stroke

WATCH: Kobe and Dwight get into it

Notre Dame WR will not be punished

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.