Toast of the Town: Nicklas Lidstrom
That's saying a lot, considering the storied history of the organization. But ask any Red Wings fan, player or coach and they'll point to No. 5 as the player who best exemplifies the identity of this franchise.
Lidstrom was recently nominated for the Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman, an award he's already won in six of the last seven seasons. He's the highest-scoring defenseman in franchise history and one would be hard-pressed to find a more consistent contributor on the power-play -- he's averaged 33.08 power-play points over his last 12 seasons.
Then there's this one other statistic that boggles the mind. Since the 1991-92 season, Lidstrom has posted an incredible plus-409 rating -- not too bad for a third-round draft pick in 1989.
During Detroit's opening-round sweep over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lidstrom was, yet again, a tower of strength. He has possessed one of the best sticks in the game -- capable of sweeping the puck or forcing an opponent wide just by his positioning. He's not overly physical because he doesn't need to be. That speaks volumes about his ability to excel in any situation.
Not only do most Wings fans consider the 10-time All-Star a role model, but the vast majority of the League's fans do as well. He's cordial with the media and is a big reason Detroit is favored to defend their Stanley Cup crown this spring.
In June 2006, Lidstrom signed a contract to remain in Detroit for the same annual salary he earned during the 2005-06 season, setting a new standard in team and fan loyalty. That decision obviously impacted several of his teammates, who recently re-signed with the team instead of testing free agency.
"I think a big part of playoff hockey is trust, and the trust you have within your room and the trust you have between the coach and the players, because if you don't trust people they don't get out there," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Nick is one of the best obviously in the world, as we all know, and he's been great."