Steve Yzerman played 1514 games in a Detroit Red Wings jersey. He saw a lot of hockey from his unique vantage point, allowing him to make some astute observations about some of the games' greatest players.
One of the greatest players he ever saw was his own teammate, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Many compare Lidstrom favorably to Ray Bourque. Some even dare to mention him in the same breath as Bobby Orr.
Yzerman, however, has a very different comparable for Lidstrom.
“He’s Roger Federer,” Yzerman said. “He’s graceful, and because they’re so technically sound, it looks effortless at times for them.
“You can ask anyone who played with him, anyone who coached him, anyone who knew him — Nick was the most low-maintenance player in the history of the game.”
Nicklas Lidstrom returns to Detroit this week as the Red Wings will raise his number five to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena. Lidstrom will join Steve Yzerman’s 19, Gordie Howe’s 9, Sid Abel’s 12, Ted Lindsay’s 7, Alex Delvecchio’s 10 and Terry Sawchuk’s 1 high above the ice.
“He played so many minutes in all situations, and did everything right,” Yzerman continued. “From the first time I saw him play, I knew he was something special. He looked like a 10-year veteran when he was 21 years old. He had a lot of great attributes, and one of them was the intelligence to step in right away and look at home."
Home for Lidstrom means a return to Sweden. The family has built their dream home in Vasteras. Though his four sons have been largely raised in America, he always insisted that Swedish was the dominant language at home. They all play hockey, keeping Lidstrom busy. After a lifetime of sacrifices to the game that has given him so much, family is the only thing that he's really interested in these days.
Nicklas Lidstrom's Top Five Hockey Memories:
- “1997 Stanley Cup, because it was our first Cup in four decades.”
- “1998 Stanley Cup, because it united all of us after the terrible accident from the summer before.”
- “2002 Stanley Cup, because we were like an all-star team, and the way we rallied after being down 2-0 against Vancouver in the first round.”
- “The 2006 Olympics, winning the gold medal for Sweden, scoring that goal, I’ll always remember that.”
- “Being named captain of the Red Wings in 2006, after Steve Yzerman retired, that was incredibly special.”