Nicklas Lidstrom, a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings and a seven-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League's best defenseman, announced Thursday that he will retire from the Red Wings after 20 seasons.
Lidstrom finishes his illustrious career ranked in the top 10 all-time among defensemen with 264 goals (ninth), 878 assists (sixth), 1,142 points (sixth) and 132 power-play goals (fifth). He played in 263 postseason games, second all-time among NHL players (Chris Chelios had 266), and 1,564 regular season games, second in franchise history behind only Gordie Howe (1,687).
I'm extremely grateful for having had the chance to play in Detroit for 20 years, for an Original Six franchise with such history and tradition, and for having the opportunity to play with so many world-class players during my career, said Lidstrom. I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. [Mike] Ilitch for always providing us with the best opportunity to win, year after year. I also want to thank the fans for their unending support. I have nothing but great memories of my time with the Red Wings, especially the four Stanley Cup championships we were able to bring to Detroit.
Lidstrom, 42, was Detroit's third-round pick (53rd overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in Chicago against the rival Blackhawks on Oct. 3, 1991. The Vasteras, Sweden, native collected 60 points (11-49-60) during his rookie campaign and finished as the runner-up to Pavel Bure for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. Lidstrom was named to the 1992 All-Rookie Team. His stellar freshman season was simply a prelude of things to come over the next two decades.
Lidstrom spent all 20 seasons of his career in the Motor City, a rare feat in today's professional sports landscape. He never missed the playoffs during his career, advancing to the conference finals eight times, the Stanley Cup Final six times and winning the Stanley Cup times in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008. In 2002, the steady defenseman became the first European-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs MVP despite playing on a team littered with stars such as Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Dominik Hasek and Brendan Shanahan.
He was named captain of the Red Wings before the 2006-07 season and led Detroit to back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2008 and 2009. He became the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup championship with a 4-2 series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008.
It's hard to put into words exactly what Nicklas Lidstrom has meant to the Detroit Red Wings over the last 20 years, said Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland. In my opinion he's the best two-way defenseman to ever play the game. He's the type of player that comes along once in a generation. We'll miss what he's brought to our organization as a player and as our captain, but what we'll probably miss the most is the person that he is off the ice and having him around on a daily basis.