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Lilja is back where he belongs

Monday, 04.19.2010 / 5:04 PM ET / News
By Brian Compton  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Lilja is back where he belongs
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DETROIT -- Andreas Lilja has recorded 90 penalty minutes or more three times in his NHL career, a strong indication that the Red Wings' defenseman never shied away from dropping the gloves.

But on Feb. 28, 2009, a fight with Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber nearly ended his career.

"He knocked me out," Lilja told NHL.com after his team practiced on Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

Weber did more than that. The force from his fists gave Lilja a concussion that kept him off the ice for an entire year. It was so bad that the 34-year-old had no choice but to contemplate retirement.

"In the beginning, I did," Lilja admitted. "I tried to stay positive the whole way. After seven and a half months of headaches, I went to see a guy in Vancouver who really helped me out. He got me symptom-free for three days, so I was like, 'OK ... it's only going to be a matter of time.' It took a year."
He decided he wanted to play and those are tough decisions for him and his family. Any time you're talking about head injuries, those are tough decisions and you hate when it happens. In saying that, you've got to give him credit for his determination and his will and his ability to battle back. - Coach Mike Babcock on Andreas Lilja

Lilja finally returned to the Wings' lineup on March 1 at Colorado. He played the final 20 games of the regular season, notching a goal and an assist with four penalty minutes. He's been in the lineup for all three of Detroit's postseason games against the Phoenix Coyotes and will be again when the teams meet for Game 4 on Tuesday night (6:30 p.m. EDT, TSN).

"There was a bunch of times," Wings' coach Mike Babcock said. "He decided he wanted to play and those are tough decisions for him and his family. Any time you're talking about head injuries, those are tough decisions and you hate when it happens. In saying that, you've got to give him credit for his determination and his will and his ability to battle back."

Detroit is in battle-back mode following a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes Sunday. Phoenix shocked the hockey world by winning 50 games during the regular season, good enough to earn the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Lilja, who has appeared in 45 NHL playoff games, thinks this best-of-seven series is primed to go the distance.

"I think it's going to probably go seven games," Lilja said. "But it's awesome. We're playing a really good team, so we have to step it up. They're not going to roll over and die and give it to us. We have to make sure we take care of business ourselves."

Just like how Lilja took care of business off the ice to make sure he could return to action. It was a long year -- probably the longest of his life -- but the former second-round draft pick (Los Angeles, 2000) is finally back to living a normal life and playing the game he loves.

"It's a really good feeling," Lilja said. "It's been quite a while that I've been without symptoms. It's just awesome to be out there and playing with the guys and battling. It's a lot of fun."


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HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89