Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/1/12
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, did his job and went home. The next time you would see him was at the rink. As much as he would have welcomed a career spent entirely under the radar, Nicks talent was too considerable to be ignored -- even though hockeys elite press corps sure did try. When the Red Wings began to evolve into the NHLs premiere franchise, a major reason for their success was the influence of European players. Detroit possessed an international roster, and their game was rooted in skill, speed and inner toughness. That didnt play well with hockey beat reporters, dominated by Canadian journalists who believed that protecting their national game was part of their job. There wasnt a player who suffered more from this anti-European bias than Lidstrom, who never seemed to be bothered by it. For too many years, most of the compliments that came his way were always punctuated with, Well, hes not a big hitter and he really doesnt play a physical game. If he hailed from the wilds of North American, worked the land during the offseason and was named Jon Smyth, well, lets just say that his lack of a physical game would have been a non-issue. That all changed during the wee hours of June 9, 2002, in Raleigh, N.C. The Red Wings had just defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in triple overtime to take a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals. The game started on Saturday night and finished early Sunday morning. ABC televised it nationally, and Al "Do you believe in miracles?" Michaels, handled the play-by-play. Detroit, after pulling goalie Dominik Hasek, tied the game with less than two minutes to play on a goal by Brett Hull, with Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov drawing the assists. Overtime was exciting and nerve-racking, with great up-and-down action. Finally, at the 14:47 mark of the third overtime, Igor Larionov scored, sending Lidstrom into stardom. When the final score sheet was released, Lidstroms ice-time totaled 52:03. In a game that lasted for 114:47, Nick had played nearly half of it, which became the story. Lidstroms ice-time was all anybody wanted to talk about. It was an amazing metamorphosis. Suddenly, Nicks lack of hitting and physical play were cast aside and replaced with flawless play and incredible stamina. Even though he had won the Norris Trophy the year before, the endurance he show with the Cup on the line finally earned him credibility with a large segment of the hockey press. Neither team skated the next day, but they had media obligations to fulfill. The Wings met the media in a hotel banquet room that was overflowing with food and drink. Needless to say, the media was in great mood, with many of them saying that if Detroit won the Cup, Lidstrom was the clear-cut choice to win the Conn Smythe as playoffs MVP. It was so strange to see so many media members change their tune based on 52:03 of ice-time. When the Wings arrived, I immediately went up to Nick and said, You really did it this time. The entire Canadian press has punched their ticket on the Nick party train and plan on staying for the full ride. Why? What did I do? Lidstrom responded. Your ice-time; you played over 50 minutes," I told him. "Be careful, theres such a Nick lovefest going on in there, they may want a lock of your hair." Maybe I should have worn a hat, Lidstrom said laughing. After that, Lidstrom won two more Stanley Cups, the Conn Smythe Trophy and six more Norris Trophies. Now its all over. Hell never log another minute of ice-time again. As Lidstrom addressed the overflowing crowd at his retirement announcement Thursday, I could have kicked myself for forgetting my hair-cutting shears.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

NHL 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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker