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Lidstrom announces retirement, cites lack of “drive and motivation” to keep playing

May 31, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Lidstrom Getty Images

As expected, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom officially announced his retirement this morning in Detroit. The 42-year-old defenseman said his “drive and motivation are not where they need to be” to keep playing in the NHL, and that his skills have diminished.

“I didn’t want to lose that level of play that I have reached and that’s why I’m retiring today,” he said.

“Retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride, rather than have the game walk away from me.”

An emotional Lidstrom thanked everyone from ownership to management to coaches to players to team personnel to the media to arena ushers to fans and his family.

Said team owner Mike Ilitch: “It’s one of the most emotional days in Red Wings history with Nick retiring and all you people showing your respect for such a high-quality individual.”

Added general manager Ken Holland: “In my opinion he’s the best two-way defenseman to ever play the game. He’s the type of player that comes along once in a generation.”

Holland later referred to Lidstrom as the “most valuable player of his era.”

More notes and quotes:

— Lidstrom and his family will move back to Sweden, though he says he’d like to remain with the club in some capacity.

— When asked who might take over as Red Wings captain, he mentioned Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula.

— Ilitch: “Nick has been a Rock of Gibraltar. A solid leader. The word ‘perfect’ comes up.”

Teammate Todd Bertuzzi: “It’s going to be a very different locker room. It’s going to look weird without Nick.”

Watch the full press conference below:

  1. miketoasty - May 31, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    There goes one of the greats. Enjoy your retirement!

    • hockeyjockey - May 31, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      Farewell to one of the Greatest Ambassador’s the Sport of Hockey will ever see.

  2. atb4 - May 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Farewell Lidstrom. You were one of the best.

  3. reachers87 - May 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Fantastic career. He will be missed, even by a Pens fan.

  4. dougyfresh9981 - May 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    The true epitomy of a captain. A tremendous talent on the ice for so many years, yet he was even better off it. Even if you’ve hated the Wings for years, it was hard to dislike Lidstrom. One of the game’s greatest ambassadors

  5. lucicfan603 - May 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Great captain and a great player he will be missed

  6. adambhoy - May 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Complete class act. You want a role model hockey player? Nick Lidstrom was it. And this is coming from someone with no love for the Red Wings.

    Good luck in retirement, #5! You have earned it!

  7. steelerstom - May 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    If you are a sports fan there are rare times when comes along a player so gifted, so unparelleled in their sport that everyone, even those that are not huge fans take notice and are in awe of their abilities. Nicklas Lidstrom is one of those athletes! If you know anything about the game of hockey you know just how great he was for 20 years wearing the winged wheel. More importantly if you follow the NHL and the Red Wings you know what kind of person, teammate, and consumate professional Nicklas Lidstrom is. He represented himself, his family, his country(Sweden), the city of Detroit, the Red Wing Organization and the NHL with class, dignity and determination. I will always be greatful for the many opportunities I was fortunate enough to watch him play and will miss him now that the career of one of The Greatest Defenseman to ever play is complete! HOF is calling Nicklas Lidstrom! Enjoy your retirement and your family! Thank you from the bottom of my heart from a die hard Wings fan for all the wins, great plays, etc. but most of all for being a role model for all those that looked up to you!

  8. hiltonandastoria - May 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    I remember the 1st time I seen Lidstrom, it was the 1991 Canada Cup. Sweden had this Red Wings draft choice playing D and you could see greatness written all over him. I was 17 at the time, and I told my friends constantly that Detroit has an All-Star Dman coming to them.

    I sold him way too short

  9. michiganhockey11 - May 31, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    You hear the term “class act” a lot today. None has exemplied that any greater than all of those he thanked during his press conference.

    From owners to management, to coaches, players right down to the maintenence crew. The guy even thanked (i can’t recall his name) the guys that stocks their fridge with water bottles. He thanked the frigging water guy!!!

    That was the first thing that the radio host said when they cut away from the conference back to the broadcast.”He just thanked the waterboy”. Total class.

    • michiganhockey11 - May 31, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      Heck, I even heard him thank the lady that puts together their lunches on game days!

  10. daburghdabest - May 31, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Best Lidstrom memory by far.

    • spartaninnh - May 31, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      The only dig at a complete class act, and it comes from a Pens fan. Color me shocked. Don’t forget to hunt up the video of Nick raising the Stanley on your home rink — it’s out there, too, you know.

      So let’s just add things up: 4 Stanley Cups; 7 Norris Trophies; the first European Conn Smythe winner; the first European-born captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team; the gold-medal-clinching shot in the Olympics; and an IIHF Championship. Those guys are, to put it mildly, rare.

      And good luck getting 20 years out of Crosby. Jut playing in the NHL for 20 years is a rare accomplishment in and of itself.

      • dangle13x - May 31, 2012 at 4:33 PM

        Pens fans, you won a cup. great. Nick has 4. You hicks are priceless.

    • dangle13x - May 31, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      da burgh da best? Yea, if the term best implies most laden with white trash monkeys that don’t know anything about hockey. All class out of Pitt.

      • daburghdabest - May 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        Hey at least people in Pittsburgh don’t have to dodge bullets when we pick the paper of our doorsteps in the morning.

        Oh “Nick” has 4 cups? Your math must be fuzzy (must be that Detroit education) or maybe your memory doesn’t go back before Detroit became relevant again in the late 90’s, probably because you weren’t even a hockey fan till that happened, but The Pens have THREE cups, Plus 6 Super Bowls & 5 World Series titles making Pittsburgh THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS, & since Detroit can’t ever compete with that you know you can suck it.

      • redandi13 - May 31, 2012 at 9:08 PM

        OK, let’s go over the math.

        4 Cups WITH Nick. 7 without=11 Stanley Cups

        Detroit Tigers-4 World Series Championships

        Detroit Lions-Ya got us there, no “Super Bowls”
        However, they were NFL Champs 4 times BEFORE there was a Super Bowl
        so….4 Championships

        Detroit Pistons- 5 NBA Championships

        So 11+ 4+ 4+ 5= 24 Championships

        Good enough for us.

  11. wingsdjy - May 31, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Next up: Holmstrom’s retirement. Can’t see him sticking around without his best buddy.

  12. caps247 - May 31, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Here’s to a fantastic retirement, Nick!

    What an amazing player and class act, another legend product out of the dynastic Red Wing’s factory.

    You will be missed greatly by team and sports fans alike from everywhere.

  13. w8erv65 - May 31, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Lidstrom’s definitely going to be missed! I watched Stevie Y play for ALL of his career, and when he left, there was a huge hole on the ice. Now that his successor is retiring, the hole has gotten larger. The man has NOTHING to hang his head about, and we are all the better for having him in Hockeytown all these years. Let’s just hope they can find room for him in the front office now.

    Thanks, Nick! GO WINGS!!!

  14. Chris Ross - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    I definitely don’t think this should come as too much of a surprise to anyone. The Red Wings have gotten such great value out of a player not even picked out of the top-15 it’s amazing. But it’s even more amazing that he was still playing major, top defenseman minutes on the wrong side of 40 last year. He is obviously a first ballot hall of famer and almost definitely a top-5 defenceman of all-time. I didn’t love the guy personally but it is no doubt the last we’ll see of one of the true class acts in NHL history.

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