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Chara Or Lidstrom?

from Paul Grant of ESPN,

For our fourth and final installment, how about two of the best defensemen of the modern era in Zdeno Chara and Nicklas Lidstrom? Sure, different styles, different physical builds, but roll with us on this one. There's no questioning each was the No. 1 defenseman on a highly successful team.

The case for Zdeno Chara: One Stanley Cup. One Norris Trophy. But that doesn't accurately represent how dominant a player Chara, 36, has been over the years. The Bruins defenseman shuts down opposing stars with smothering coverage using his height and massive reach. His game has come a long way since he broke into the league as a raw Islanders third-round draft pick in 1996. As he gained confidence and comfort with the NHL style of play, he became a force to reckon with. ...

The case for Nicklas Lidstrom: Lidstrom should be considered the best defenseman of his generation. Four Stanley Cups. Seven Norris Trophies. One Conn Smythe. One Olympic gold. But somehow, perhaps because he was understated personally, perhaps because he didn't fight, perhaps because he quietly and efficiently went about his job, perhaps because he didn't often score on spectacular end-to-end rushes, he sometimes slides under the radar when "all-time greatest" conversations are held about defenseman....

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I like Chara, and he’s one of the better D of the last 20 or so years, but he’s not in the same discussion as Lidstrom IMO. That’s like comparing Mario and someone like Mike Modano or Pat Lafontaine.

Posted by Chris M on 08/08/13 at 10:49 AM ET

Avatar

even if all things were even… which they are not…. the fact that chara is a douche bag, and lidstrom was about as nice a person that existed in the game.  I choose lidstrom.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 08/08/13 at 11:04 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Biased of course, but Lidstrom never would’ve let an over the hill Bertuzzi do this to him-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPA6UGZxemI

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/08/13 at 11:11 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

I hate the Wings but still realize that this question is a joke. As good as Chara is, Lidstrom is obviously one of the best of all-time.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 08/08/13 at 11:26 AM ET

awould's avatar

he sometimes slides under the radar when “all-time greatest” conversations are held about defenseman….

This has never happened. Not once. Lidstrom’s name is always in the mix whenever the best ever topic comes up. Orr is usually the winner of the argument, but Lidstrom is often talked about as being anywhere from a close second to top 4, where the others happen to also be the best of their era.

Here’s the first bunch of sites on a google search of “best nhl defensman ever”.
Lidstrom shows up as #1 in most and no lower than #4.

And the fact that nobody has ever mentioned Chara’s name as a potential “best ever” pretty much answers the question of the ESPN article.

http://www.prohockey-fans.com/hockey-articles/best-nhl-defensemen_070708.html
http://www.rantsports.com/nhl/2013/05/09/top-20-defensemen-in-nhl-history/#slide_21
http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/best-nhl-defensemen-of-all-time
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/856858-top-ten-nhl-defensemen-of-all-time/page/11
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1203013-lidstrom-reportedly-retiring-ranking-the-top-10-defensemen-in-nhl-history/page/9
http://www.nhl.com/ice/blogpost.htm?id=3428
http://www.totalprosports.com/2012/06/04/11-best-nhl-defensemen-of-all-time/#11

Posted by awould on 08/08/13 at 11:49 AM ET

John's avatar

Chara is a great defenseman, clearly one of the elites in today’s game.  There is no questioning his talent.

But this question is a total joke.  Lidstrom is either the #1 or #2 defenseman of all time depending on who you ask.  Chara isn’t even close to his talent.

Posted by John from Pittsburgh, PA (Wings fan for life!) on 08/08/13 at 11:52 AM ET

John's avatar

And I think it says something that non-Wings fans are on here saying the same thing.  Lidstrom’s isn’t just a favorite among homers. His talent was obvious and his accomplishments were notable.

Posted by John from Pittsburgh, PA (Wings fan for life!) on 08/08/13 at 11:54 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

For quite a while, Chara was just a tall defenseman. He’s gotten much better and is a serious all-star player. He’s one of the best of about half of his playing career.

Lidstrom is one of the best ever to play the game.


The follow up article might ask “Why isn’t anyone comparing Danny Heatley to Gordie Howe?”

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 08/08/13 at 12:15 PM ET

Hank Scorpio's avatar

Did Stan Fischler ghost write this poll question?  Only he and Boston fans would ever vote for Chara over Lidstrom.

The Mario v. LaFontaine/Modano comparison is apt.

Posted by Hank Scorpio on 08/08/13 at 12:55 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

Paul Grant is a salaried troll.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 08/08/13 at 03:51 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I can’t believe the poll is currently even as close as 70/30. No disrespect to Chara, but he’s a guy that took four or five seasons to develop a consistent offensive game. Lidstrom was a 60 point scorer in his rookie season and never let up. That’s just the most obvious thing you can see on the back of their hockey cards. Even on the defensive side, Lidstrom was a natural with great positioning and stick work that could play against anyone just a season or two into his career, while Chara kinda fit the typical mold of a big D—took some time to find the right balance between using his size to his advantage without putting himself out of position.

When you’re asking the question of the best D of the era, you have two eras that Lidstrom spanned—the ‘90s and ‘00s. Chara is really just the ‘00s, and by the time he hangs ‘em up, he’ll have the ‘10s as well.

In the ‘90s, Lidstrom is undoubtedly top 2, Bourque being the other guy in the conversation. I think despite the fact that Lidstrom didn’t win a Norris in that decade, most pundits and fans alike have long since acknowledged that Lidstrom was under the radar and didn’t get the credit he deserved in the ‘90s because he didn’t have the Al MacInnis slapshot, the Chris Pronger physicality, and was on a team loaded with more lauded stars than he. Once the ‘00s rolled around, and the team transitioned through a few phases and Lidstrom’s play stayed just as high through it all, then it became clear he was underrated and probably deserved a Norris or two in the ‘90s.

In the ‘00s, it’s no contest. The funny thing about comparing Lidstrom and Chara in a discussion about best of the era is that Chara isn’t even the 2nd best D of the ‘00s. I think Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger were pretty clearly better in the ‘00s. If you wanted to assess who the best was from ‘05 to ‘15, I think it’s pretty likely Chara will deserve that praise. But as it sits today, I don’t see how he’s even being compared to Lidstrom, the obvious #1 of the period, when he doesn’t even clearly stack up as better than at least two other guys.

Lidstrom is undoubtedly the best D of the 10 year period spanning the ‘00s. He is most likely the best D of the 10 year period spanning the ‘90s, certainly no worst than the second best. He will undoubtedly be the best D spanning the 20 years over the ‘90s and ‘00s. Chara may well never be the best of any 10 year window (Keith, Weber, and Suter are pretty damn good), and certainly will never be the best in a given 20 year window (with the aforementioned three being around, along with Doughty and Karlsson).

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/08/13 at 03:52 PM ET

Mistercristo's avatar

I don’t recall Lidström EVER being as ineffectual in a playoff series as Chara was against Chicago, even with double the sample size. 

(Entire point) <-nutshell.

Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye's garage, circa 1987 on 08/08/13 at 07:10 PM ET

harken23's avatar

100% agreed with awould (and I posted a similar comment on article’s page). ESPN should stick to football or whatever it is they cover.

Posted by harken23 on 08/08/13 at 07:38 PM ET

LiteWork's avatar

Chara is a great defenseman, clearly one of the elites in today’s game.  There is no questioning his talent.

But this question is a total joke.  Lidstrom is either the #1 or #2 defenseman of all time depending on who you ask.  Chara isn’t even close to his talent.

Posted by John from Pittsburgh, PA (Wings fan for life!) on 08/08/13 at 11:52 AM ET

I have never heard anyone call Lidstrom the #1 defenseman of all-time.

Posted by LiteWork on 08/08/13 at 11:38 PM ET

John's avatar

LiteWork, refer to the post above mine by awould.  Several sources are given that identify Lidstrom as the #1.

To quote awould:

Here’s the first bunch of sites on a google search of “best nhl defensman ever”.
Lidstrom shows up as #1 in most and no lower than #4.

Posted by John from Pittsburgh, PA (Wings fan for life!) on 08/09/13 at 01:04 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I have never heard anyone call Lidstrom the #1 defenseman of all-time.

Give me your phone number. I’ll fix that for you.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/09/13 at 01:19 AM ET

LiteWork's avatar

LiteWork, refer to the post above mine by awould.  Several sources are given that identify Lidstrom as the #1.

To quote awould:

  Here’s the first bunch of sites on a google search of “best nhl defensman ever”.
  Lidstrom shows up as #1 in most and no lower than #4.

No question he’s top 4 but I dont see much argument for him over Orr. I ran the same search and I got sites like Bleacher Report and some other obscure sites. Not sure how credible they are.

Posted by LiteWork on 08/09/13 at 01:21 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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