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Red Wings will miss Lidstrom

June 10, 2012
CRAIG?REMSBURG - Senior Sports Writer (cremsburg@miningjournal.net) , The Mining Journal

We were jointly preparing dinner on one of my rare nights off from work when The Lovely Linda Lou asked me how my day went.

"Not very good," I replied in the saddest voice I could muster. "It was not a very good day."

I waited for her to reply, but upon hearing nothing, I said "Nicklas Lidstrom retired today."

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CRAIG?REMSBURG

She looked at me and said "that's what made your day tough?"

I guess she just didn't understand, though she has known my love affair with the Detroit Red Wings for the nearly-28 years we've been together.

Lidstrom, 42, has been a consistent defenseman for 20 seasons with the Wings - always talented and always classy.

In an era where the bad boys of sports seemed to get a lot of media attention, Lidstrom just went about his business, excelling on and off the ice.

You never heard him running afoul of NHL rules or the law. He was not outrageous in any form. aside from his splendid play on the ice.

Lidstrom played 1,564 games for the Wings, setting an NHL mark for games played with a single team.

He was named the NHL's best defenseman seven times - seven times - and helped lead the Wings to four Stanley Cup titles. Lidstrom finished with 264 goals and 1,142 career points.

He was also an Olympic gold medalist with Sweden.

I think one of the things that impressed me the most about Lidstrom was that he sparkled as a finesse defenseman. He didn't rock opponents with bruising checks. He didn't have to resort to physical play.

He always took the right angle on a play. If he couldn't take a foe out of the play, Lidstrom would take the puck away. Or render the opponent's offensive move(s) useless.

The Wings won't be able to replace Lidstrom. A player with his talent doesn't come along very often.

Niklas Kronwall will have to step up his play for the Wings. So will fellow rearguards Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl, since free agent Brad Stuart will likely not play for the team next season.

Brendan Smith, like Kindl a former first round Wings draft pick, will also get to play some meaningful minutes after just 14 games with the Wings to date.

With a projected $20 million in cap space to spend, Wings general manager Ken Holland will no doubt try to sign a free agent or two to help fill Lidstrom's void.

The Predators' Ryan Suter may be a target.

It's inconceivable to think Holland won't make a major move or two this summer to improve the Wings, especially on defense now that Lidstrom has retired.

Failure to do so would doom the Wings to middle-of-the-pack status, something the proud franchise hasn't experienced since the 1980s.

That would REALLY bum me out, Linda Lou.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.

 
 

 

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