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Nicklas Lidstrom, in his own (Swedish) words: Red Wings’ captain lacks motivation to continue

I figured it would happen this way: Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom has been given a wide berth by the local press corps, but when Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom called him, Lidstrom wouldn’t fib as to why he’s retiring:

Lidstrom: I’ve had a great career

Los Angeles. It was the drive and motivation that was lost. It is, therefore, why Nicklas Lidstrom, 42, made the decision to quit.

He reveals this in an exclusive interview to Sport-Expressen, before today’s press conference in Detroit, where the decision becomes official. This summer, “Lidas” will move home to Sweden with his family.


“I made my decision last week and told our general manager, Ken Holland, that I would stop playing. He asked me to think for a few days, until last Wednesday, when I texted him that the decision was final,” says “Lidas.”

What made you quit now?

“I feel that I lack the drive and motivation necessary to have the strength to go through the lengthy build-up of training and pre-season that awaits the season. Not again, I thought, and then this was the only right decision.”

What was Holland’s and the Red Wings’ reaction?

“That I could have a couple more months to think about it if I wanted. That there was no hurry.”

How long have you had these thoughts, that this is the end?

“The thought have come in the recent weeks. I’ve obviously talked everything through with my family, and our children have known for years that we’d move back to Sweden as soon as my NHL career is over.”

Building a house in Vasteras

So you’re leaving the U.S. this summer?

“Yes, we are. Both Annika and I want to be closer to our families and relatives. We’ve lived in Detroit for 21 years, and although we know it’s going to be a big adjustment, it still feels right to us.”

So you’re selling your house in Detroit, and moving back to Vasteras?

“That’s right. We’re building a house in Vasteras, which won’t be completed until early next year, but we have a summer home where we’ll stay until then.”

What will you miss about your professional life, and the U.S.?

“We’ve lived here for 20 years, so it will feel strange to break off and leave everything that comes with the NHL every day.”

But in hockey terms, would you have been able to continue playing in the NHL?

“Yes, I would have felt justified in doing so. I certainly could have been able to play at least one or more years. But I also know that my body’s beginning to speak up a bit.”

You’ve won everything. Is that something that played into it?

“I feel that I got to experience a great deal and had a fantastic career. How many people get to play in six Stanley Cup Finals? And have won four of them?”

Who did you inform first?

“I called my parents yesterday (Wednesday) and today I talked to Tomas Holmstrom. We’ve [battled through a lot together] over the years here.”

Hopes for the Hall of Fame

Are you aware that there’s going to be a big hole for both you and your teamates?

“It’s safe to say. I’ve been in the team for so long that I’ve always been here when others have arrivved.”

Have you conducted any discussions about working for the Red Wings in the future?

“Ken Holland and I will sit down and talk about things before I move back to Sweden in mid-June. What they are, I don’t know, we’ll have to talk. But of course I’ll keep in touch with the team.

Do you know what you’re going to do back home in Sweden?

“No, so far I haven’t had the time to think about it. To begin with, I’ll spend time to acclimatize with my family, make sure that my kids do well in school, and that kind of stuff.”

You’re a given to be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in two years?

“I can always hope. It would be an incredible feeling to end up there.”

Finally, who’s going to take over as the captain for the Red Wings after you, do you think?

“I would think that ‘Zata’ (Henrik Zetterberg), but Niklas Kronwall also stepped forward and took on a major leadership role on the team over the past few years. Both are good candidates.”

For the record, Lidstrom’s dad, Jan-Erik, had this to say to Aftonbladet’s Oskar Magnusson:

“We talked at last Tuesday, but not so much about hockey. He said he was scheduled to meet with Detroit, but nothing more than that. When the season was over Nicklas said that he would decide later this summer, but we have not wanted to press him for the all clear,” says Nicklas Lidströms father, Jan-Erik to Sportbladet.

Update: Nyheter24.se and Aftonbladet posted remarkable photo galleries from Lidstrom’s career, and yes, as Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman notes, Gary Bettman praised Lidstrom in his state-of-the-league speech, and said this to Bjurman:

“We want to thank Nicklas for everything he has done for this sport and this league, if he decides to retire. He has been a tremendous asset both on and off the ice and I really want to wish him well, whatever he chooses to do in the future,” said Gary Bettman.

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MsRedWinger's avatar

It takes a lot of strength to give up something you love doing while you are still at or near the top of your game, before people start saying, “Geez, he used to be so good.”  I have never respected a hockey player more.

“I called my parents yesterday (Wednesday) and today I talked to Tomas Holmstrom. We’ve [battled through a lot together] over the years here.”

I believe Homer will also retire.  What a pair those two have been.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/31/12 at 10:16 AM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

I believe Homer will also retire.  What a pair those two have been.

Of all my favorite Wings over the years, maybe Homer is tops.  Obviously Nick has given more to the game; Steve was the ultimate leader; Sergei the ultimate freak of nature.  But how can you knock a guy who, by all conventional standards, should have never made it?  Nobody has worked harder, taken more abuse, and been such a good sport over the years.  I’ll miss ‘em both.

Posted by duhduhduh on 05/31/12 at 11:12 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

We’ve Expected and known ths would happen someday, especially with his consistently stated desire for his kids to return to Sweden full time.  Still, a stunner and a kick to the groin.

Future role with the Red Wings? Living in Sweden?  We’ve already got Hakan Andersson scouting.  But it would not be uncharacteristic of the Wings do give him a job of some sort.

Thanks Nck and best of luck always.

Posted by RWBill on 05/31/12 at 11:57 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

What was Holland’s and the Red Wings’ reaction?

“That I could have a couple more months to think about it if I wanted. That there was no hurry.”

That’s the best laugh I’ve had on this very sad day. I even get the mental picture of Tick Tock down on his knees begging Nick to “just take a few more days to think about it.”

I think this will be the summer that goes a long way towards defining Ken Holland’s legacy as a GM. Pull off a couple of great deals (even if they don’t involve Suter and/or Parise), and he’ll be a hero. Pull a summer-long version of this past February 28th and he just might get ridden out of town on a rail.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/31/12 at 12:55 PM ET

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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.