They all arrived late to the party.
For years, he had been among the NHLs best, but recognition was slow in coming.
His teammates marveled at his consistency, and to a man, they believed he was the best player on a team that boasted many great players.
Nicklas Lidstrom never wanted acclaim from anybody. He only sought excellence from himself, and when he couldnt meet his own standard, he walked away from the game.
It was a simple decision made by a player who made it all look so simple.
Several years ago, I asked Steve Yzerman -- perhaps the biggest Lidstrom fan on the Wings -- what Nick was like off the ice.
Many of us in the media were curious because we found it hard to believe that Lidstrom was so ... normal. There had to be more to him than just being a top-notch hockey player and human being.
Yzerman, with a slight smile, told me that he and Nick were certainly friendly, but they really didnt hang out. He said that Lidstrom was the type of guy who came to the rink, ...