A sad day in the NHL. Nicolas Lidstrom announced his retirement today. Lidstrom is going down as one of the best defensemen in the history of the NHL. I grew up idolizing Paul Coffey and got the pleasure to watch Lidstrom all 20 of his years in the NHL. And one of the most remarkable accomplishments is that he stayed with the Red Wings that whole time. The team that drafted him in the 3rd round. Lidstrom is a first ballot hall of famer and I want to point out why he should be in the discussion as best defensemen ever with guys like Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr.
Lidstrom has won 7 of them. That includes two 3peats as winner. Among all time winners he ranks tied for second with Doug Harvey. Only Bobby Orr has more with 8. Guys like Ray Bourque have 5 and Paul Coffey and Chris Chelios have 3. On top of his 7 wins he has been runner up 3 times, nominated 12 times and has never finished below 6th in voting.
Lidstrom has 1142 points over his 20 year career. That puts him 50th all time. Amongst all players. Not just defensemen but all players. That puts him up there with guys like Mike Bossy, Bobby Hull, and Sergie Fedorov. If you went just out of defensemen he is 6th all time. He’s ahead of the great Bobby Orr, Chris Chelios ,and Larry Robinson
Defensemen aren’t known for their scoring but Lidstrom has 264 goals to his name in the regular season. That puts him at 228th all-time which isn’t great but among defensemen he is 9th all time ahead of Chelios and Scott Neidimayer who is considered a scoring defensemen. Not only that he scores once for every 14.68 shots he takes. To put that into perspective Ray Bourque scored 1 every 15.14 shots, Coffey 11.08, Macinnis 15.18, Larry Murphy 12.56, Denis Potvin 9.85, Phil Housley 11.27. To give you some more perspective the great scorers are at Gretzky 5.96, Lemieux 5.27, 5.96, Lemieux 5.27, Yzerman 6.65 shots between goals
878 assist may not be a huge number till you realize that puts Lidstrom at 21st all time and 6th among defensemen. That puts him a head of Orr and Brian Leetch to name a few. He’s a pass first guy who is about the team goal not individual stats.
We already touched on his 7 Norris trophies but he also has 1 Conn Smyth trophy for playoff MVP. 12 all star game appearances, a gold medal, a world championship. He is 2nd all time for the Red Wings in games played. That puts him behind Gordie Howe who seems to still be playing. And he’s 4th all time on the Wings in points. That amazing since the Wings are an Original six team and have boasted a lot of big names. Howe, Lindsay, Yzerman, Federov to name a few. Ohh yeah his name is etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup 4 times.
I want to make the point that Lidstrom not only was great as an offensive player but what he brought to the team as a whole was what made him great. He only had 514 penalty minutes in his career. That’s in 1564 games. So let’s put that against other players. Henrick Sedin has played 892 games and has racked up 510 PIM(penalties in minutes) Milan Lucic of Boston has played 359 games and has 525 PIM. He’s never had a season with more than 50 PIM in a season. Only 32 times in his career has he had a streak of 2 or more games with penalties in them and only 5 of them are 3 game streaks and once yes once has he had a four game streak. He has only had 2 games with more than 4 penalty minutes, one of which was a 10 game misconduct from a bench clearing brawl. Also that’s his only fight of his career. He only has 14 games where he had more than one penalty. That’s 14 games out of 1564 games. Talk about being a leader on the ice. Hes always on the ice. He plays the right way.
He missed a career high 11 games this year. 11?! That’s a career high? He’s out there every night and plays a ton of minutes. He has a career +450. 8th all time. 4th all-time among D men, Coffey is 15th. Bourque is 2nd. His points per game stay consistent from regular season into the post season. You knew every night you were going to get a guy who played a ton of minutes. Wouldn’t take penalties and would put up points.
He has always been in the play offs. All 20 years. Not many teams let alone players can boast that sort of honor. In the playoffs he has 183 points in 221 games. He has 54 goals, 129 assist and 76 PIM and a +61. The playoff points put him 12th all-time and second among D men behind only Coffey. The goals put him 40th all-time and 3rd for D behind Coffey and Potvin. His assist makes him 5th all time. That’s ahead of guys like Al Macinnis, Stevie Y, Larry Robinson and Peter Forsberg and Orr.