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Lidstrom to return for 2010-11 season

Red Wings captain signs one-year deal

Tuesday, 06.1.2010 / 11:58 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Lidstrom to return for 2010-11 season
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DETROIT – The giant breeze that rolled up the freeway arteries leading out of downtown was the collective exhalation of a Red Wings’ organization relieved to know that one of the best players of this generation will be back.

Nicklas Lidstrom, who is widely considered the world’s best defenseman in hockey, will return for a 19th season, signing a one-year contract, the Red Wings announced Tuesday.

“I get to watch him every day,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I still think that Nick is the premier two-way defenseman in the world. There might be some player that maybe a little bit more productive, offensively, but I think when you factor in how good Nick is defensively, how he played the last half of the year, certainly the last 30 games … I still think we have one – if not the – best defensemen in the world. It’s a great day for Red Wings’ fans.”

Lidstrom was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next month. After the Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Lidstrom said that he would discuss the future with his wife and family.

Despite turning 40 last April, and not being named a Norris Trophy finalist for just the second time in the last 12 seasons, Lidstrom is still regarded by his peers as the best at his craft. In early May, Sports Illustrated polled 272 NHL players, asking them: Who is the best shutdown defenseman? Lidstrom finished on top with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Boston’s Zdeno Chara (23 percent), Nashville’s Shea Weber (10 percent), Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger (9 percent), and Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer (7 percent).

“Obviously, the players on the ice know best,” Holland said. “They have to play against him. When we go into a playoff series or big games, our match-ups are always Nick Lidstrom against the opponent’s best offensive player.

“I really think, with all of the key injuries that we had in the first 60 games last year, there were three or four key reasons we were able to stay in the race. One was the structure that Mike Babcock put in place, one was the job that Jimmy Howard did, and I certainly think another was the job that Nick Lidstrom did as a leader off the ice and as a player on the ice.”

Lidstrom’s leadership qualities also make him a tremendous commodity for the Red Wings, who have qualified for the playoffs every year of his career. The 2010-11 season will be Lidstrom’s fifth as team captain. Only Yzerman (20 seasons), Alex Delvecchio (12) and Sid Abel (9) captained the club longer. 

Lidstrom’s durability was also evident again last season, as he was one of three Wings to play in all 82 regular-season games. Remarkably, he has avoided serious injuries throughout his career. He’s played in 80-plus games in 13 seasons, and missed only 34 games – regular-season and playoffs combined – since joining the Red Wings in the 1991-92 campaign.

“He plays so much of the game in his head,” Holland said. “It’s his positioning. When he goes into the corner, it’s his quick stick, and he knows how to poke and how to angle. He’s physical when he needs to be physical, but for the most part, he doesn’t play a physical game, because he’s too smart.”

Everyone in the organization believes that Lidstrom has enough left in the tank to soon be considered among the greats who not only played into their 40s, but made significant contributions in their 40s, like hall-of-famers Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier and Jacques Plante.

“We’ve obviously been spoiled here for the last 18 years,” Holland said. “We’re watching what I think, is the greatest defenseman of his era, and I think when he’s done he will go down as one of the top defensemen in the history of the game.

“I think part of me saying that is because it’s his longevity. The ability to win the Norris Trophy at the age of 38. And be recognized at the age of 39 by your peers as the best shutdown defenseman. Not only was he a great player in his time, he’s been a great player for a long time.”

When the Wings were cleaning out their lockers on May 10, many predicted Lidstrom’s return, including coach Mike Babcock, who said that he wasn’t a “bit concerned”.

“He’s got too much good hockey left in him,” Babcock said. “I believe he’s like the rest of us, we think we’re going to be right back knocking on the door.”

Lidstrom averaged more than 25-minutes of ice time again, playing in every situation and against the opposition’s top lines. He finished tied for eighth among league defensemen in total points (49), tied for seventh in plus-minus (22), and seventh in shots (194).

He holds the league’s highest plus-minus rating (+432) since the NHL began tracking the statistic in 1991-92 – Lidstrom’s rookie season.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80