The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/23/12 at 09:52 PM ET
Despite MLive’s Ansar Khan’s assertion that “this is the year,” if you will, that Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom will finally retire, I’d prefer to not join that bandwagon until Lidstrom tells us as much. The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff has just penned a more substantial article along the same lines, and while I’m going to post it here…
As a Red Wings fan who’s already distraught about his team’s earliest playoff exit in six years, as a Red Wings fan who knows that we won’t hear a peep from Lidstrom until mid-June, as usual, and as a Red Wings fan who knows that, should Lidstrom actually call it quits, there’s nothing the Wings can do about it until the draft (where they can begin exploring the trade and/or, “We can’t sign our guy, so give us a draft pick or two and we’ll give you his rights until July 1st” markets), and, more importantly, July 1st (and it’s anything but a “sure thing” that Zach Parise, Ryan Suter or any other player will end up not re-signing with the teams who currently hold their rights, so who get so worked up about pre-ordering jerseys in April?).
I already have a severe anxiety disorder, so I spend most of my day fighting off feelings of dread, so there’s just no reason for me to freak out even more than I normally do, even if we’re talking about the future of the Wings player I’ve admired the most. I don’t see the point of the energy-sapping exercise of panicking now about something we won’t know the answer to for a good seven or eight weeks because I don’t have the energy to spare in that department, and I don’t recommend that you engage in the exercise any more than I recommend that I do.
Or, perhaps a little more bluntly?
I have a relative who lives in fear of the s*** hitting the fan, feeling always wary of how painful she’ll feel, how wounded and indignant toward the “violation” of her peace of mind she’ll bee, how terrified she’ll have to be of the challenges she’ll face and the unexpected messes she’ll have to clean up.
I don’t get it. Somehow or some way, s*** eventually hits the fain in our lives, in one way or another, and aside from being prepared for such events to happen, I don’t understand the point in living constantly hunched over, ducking and placing one’s hands above one’s head to protect oneself from fallout that is going to come at some undetermined time.
One of these years, Nicklas Lidstrom is going to call it quits, and it becomes more and more increasingly likely that he’s going to hang up his skates with every successive spring. Those who have known him for the longest and have the best handle on attempting to predict the decisions made by a man who could earn his living as the world’s best poker player estimate that we’re looking at an even 50/50 split, at best, right now, and that is indeed scary, but there’s just no point in self-flagellation.
That being said, here are a few more reasons why, according to Duff, we ought to be steeling ourselves for something that’s a little more inevitable than it was a year ago at this time:
According to sources close to Lidstrom and Holland, there have been mild suggestions that Lidstrom is plotting a course away from Hockeytown. His son has told friends that he hasn’t registered for minor hockey next fall. Holland has allowed quietly to insiders that perhaps this might be Lidstrom’s swan song. As for public consumption, the answers remain bland and uncertain.
That’s because, according to the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, Lidstrom’s second-oldest will head to Vasteras’s ice hockey school/academy next fall. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Lidstrom’s done, just as the high likelihood that Lidstrom’s best friend on the team, Tomas Holmstrom, will retire, doesn’t mean that Lidstrom will call it quits simply because he’ll lose his carepool buddy.
“The factors haven’t changed,” Lidstrom said, though the atmosphere in Detroit regarding Lidstrom’s future seems to be quite different.
After last spring’s second-round playoff exit at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, there was a solid lobby within the Detroit dressing room seeking to convince Lidstrom to play another season. When they bowed out Friday following an opening-round loss to the Nashville Predators, Lidstrom’s teammates didn’t seem ready to stump for him once again.
“I think there’s a few players that have been here a long time and I’ve been playing with them for many years,” said defenceman Niklas Kronwall, whose stall is situated two away from Lidstrom’s in the Detroit room. “You never when their last game is, so it is tough. Hopefully we’ll see them back next year.”
Not exactly what you’d call a ringing endorsement to suggest that he expects to see his captain back wearing his No. 5 sweater come next fall. Even Lidstrom admitted he wasn’t looking forward to the work he’d be required to put in to prepare his body for another grueling campaign.
“The summer workouts you do, they get harder as you get older,” Lidstrom said. “I know it’s something you have to go through to be able to play throughout the whole season. You’re getting a year older, that’s the main thing.”
Lidstrom said that last year as well, and the year before that.
And regarding the bone bruise in his right ankle?
“Not where I wanted to be,” Lidstrom assessed of his physical condition. “You want to be out there killing penalties, you want to be more in a rhythm but when you can’t do it, it’s hard to get that rhythm going.”
While he insisted that the injury was “not going to have any effect” on his decision, you have to wonder. Lidstrom has always insisted he’d only keep playing if he was at the top of his game. Does he still feel he has the gears to get that level? He’s the only who knows the answer, but for the first time in his career, there’s a sense that it could be no.
It’s entirely possible, but just as the few pundits who dared to talk about the Red Wings on sports talk radio seemed to be wholly unfamiliar with the Calle Jarnkroks and Teemu Pulkkinens of the Wings world—or the Brendan Smiths and Gustav Nyquists, for that matter—while insisting that the Wings have no future prospects and no players with any potential in the organization, a year ago at this time, there were the same iterations of, “This could really be it.”
This year, it’s more likely that, “This could really be it” than last year, to the point that I’m even jitterier than usual about such prospects without prodding from Khan or Duff, but…Hell, man, what can we do that will change Lidstrom’s mind? Nothing more than the Wings could do to assure Lidstrom that his sons would retain their “Swedishness” while attending American schools a decade ago—little, if there’s anything at all to be done.
We’ll see what Lidstrom has to say tomorrow, though it’s doubtful that he’ll shine any lights on his future intentions, and then…We’ll have to wait and see. While we do so, there’s no point in making ourselves any more scared s***less of an eventual inevitability than we already felt a year ago.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.