October 07, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Doug Lidster

Defenceman Doug Lidster retired in the summer of 1998 to join the Canadian national hockey team as a playing coach.

"Its a great way to give back to the program that gave so much to me," said Lidster.

However his NHL retirement was short lived as it turned out. Once the national team's season was over, Doug signed with the Dallas Stars to finish the 1998-99 season with them. Doug played in 17 regular season games and was part of the Stars Stanley Cup championship!

Lidster was a member of the 1983-84 Canadian National team that finished 4th in the Sarajevo Olympics. For Lidster, a standout the 4 previous years with Colorado College of the WCHA, it was a dream come true to play in the Olympic games.

"We were together six months leading up to the Olympics and we played a difficult 55-game schedule, lots of times with two-a-day practices and heavy competition," Lidster said. "But I felt it was a huge reason I was able to make the jump from college hockey into the NHL. (Olympic team coaches) Dave King, George Kingston and Jean Perron did an outstanding job and for me it was a huge learning experience."

"We went every day but four from the beginning of August right up to the Olympics. We had only four days off! A lot of those days were two-a-days. I just remember it being an incredible grind."

Following the Olympics, Lidster joined the Vancouver Canucks who made him their 133rd overall pick in the 1980 Entry Draft. The Kamloops, British Columbia native went on to become arguably the best blue liner in Canuck history to that point.

An exceptional skater and good puck handler, Lidster lacked a good point shot to establish himself as a top NHL defenseman. A hard worker, he relied more on his finesse and skating game than his non-existent physical game, despite his good size (6'1" 200lbs")

Lidster played 9 strong seasons with the Canucks, setting team records with 63 points by a defenseman in 1986-87. Lidster, who would have been a perfect #2 or #3 defenseman on almost any other club at the time, was the Canucks #1 man. He did an outstanding job but got little recognition from the NHL media as his team was so bad.

The NHL community always was impressed by Lidster's play. Twice he was asked to represent Canada at the World Championships, both times winning silver medals. He was also invited to but eventually cut from the 1991 Canada Cup squad.

The summer of 1993 saw Lidster move to New York in a bizarre move that saw the Canucks acquire John Vanbiesbrouck, who was then in turn left exposed in the expansion draft to protect goalies Kirk McLean and Kay Whitmore. Oddly enough, Lidster, who for so many years fought so many battles for the Canucks, found himself fighting his biggest hockey battle against the Canucks in the spring of 1994. In a classic 7 game showdown, Lidster's Rangers narrowly edged out Lidster's former teammates.

"I knew the guys in the Vancouver dressing room better than I knew the guys in the Rangers dressing room and I knew how hard they worked," he said. "No question, that was the highlight of my career."

Lidster, who became a Mike Keenan favorite while in New York, was traded to St. Louis in the summer of 1994 along with Esa Tikkanen in exchange for Petr Nedved. The deal was used to compensate the Rangers who suspiciously lost coach Keenan to the Blues just days after winning the Cup. The Rangers cried fowl and the league ordered the Blues to compensate the Rangers.

Lidster played only 37 games with St. Louis that season, and the following summer was back on his way to New York where he rounded out his NHL career with three more seasons on the Rangers blue line. "Liddy" then jumped to the national team program before joining the Dallas Stars.

He would retire at the end of the 1998-99 season, and turned to coaching at many levels, including the NHL and Hockey Canada as an assistant on the women's gold medal winning hockey team in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

"When I played in the Olympics, it wasn't nearly the event that it is now," Lidster says. "This year it's a bit different. It's in Canada, and it's a much bigger event than it was back then."

As for NHLers at the Olympics, Lidster was not a fan.

"I'm not in favour of the format they have now and I don't think the NHL is getting out of the Olympics what they expect to," said Lidster.
"The NHL fans don't care that their players are playing in the Olympics and it's taking away from the NHL. But on the other hand it's going to be great hockey and it is going to be a true test. I loved the Canada Cups and in the absence of the Canada Cup, this is great.
"I just feel we'll never have another Miracle on Ice like the U.S. did (in 1980). The Olympics was a great opportunity for me and I'd like to see others be able to have that chance."

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