HHOF Profile: Nicklas Lidstrom

nick-lidstromIn the world of professional sports things are becoming far more complicated than they were years before with loyalty coming long after money.

It is not necessarily a terrible thing as players are no longer a part of a system that takes full advantage of their employees.

In the past players had to take whatever contract they could get or they weren’t going to play professionally.

That all ended when free agency was brought into multiple leagues including the NHL in the 1970s when the NHLPA was established and contracts became negotiable.

That launched an era in which players could get paid for their performance and create a bidding war among teams.

That meant that loyalty to one team suffered as players were now torn between staying with the team that drafted you and getting paid for being a good player.

The era of free agency has evolved to be one where players rarely ever stay with the same team for much longer than a few years.

When some players get older they are given the opportunity to seek a team that can give them a championship or to move to a city that they want to move to for family reasons.

It creates few players that are around long enough to not only be fan favourites but heroes to entire generations of players.

Nicklas Lidstrom was one of the last players who meets the criteria as he was a star in Detroit from the start of his career until the end.

In 1989, the Swedish defenceman was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round with the 53rd overall pick.

It was a pick that the Red Wings believed would pay off enough in the future that he could likely be an effective defender.

In 1991 Lidstrom made his NHL debut and a serviceable defence he was not, instead he was a leader and a surprise star.

Lidstrom became one of the greatest defenceman to ever step on the ice and did so on any surface he could.

In international play Lidstrom became one of only nine Swedish players to enter the Triple Gold Club.NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 20: Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Nashville Predators on March 20, 2008 at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee.(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

He helped the Swedish team to the 1991 World Championship, 2006 Olympic Gold Medal and was a multiple Stanley Cup winner.

It is a prestigious club to be a part of as the IIHF considers those three championships to be the three biggest in all of hockey and Lidstrom has all three.

In the NHL his accomplishments are almost too many to mention and are a clear indication of why he enters the Hockey Hall of Fame.

He was nominated for the Calder Trophy in 1991 and went on to win a total of seven Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenceman.

That win total puts him alongside Doug Harvey and one win behind Bobby Orr for the most Norris Trophy wins in league history.

Lidstrom was also a key to the Detroit Red Wings’ 1990s run of titles that made them the best franchise of the era.

He won a total of four Stanley Cups and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002 as the MVP of the playoffs.

Lidstrom did all of this as a member of the Red Wings and never left the city that drafted him which only made him a bigger staple of the legend of the Wings.

There were likely more than a few times in his 20-year career that he received calls from interested teams willing to pay him a lot of money in free agency.

Yet despite that he was committed to the Red Wings through the championships years and the quick playoff appearances.

It certainly made it easier that the Wings never missed the playoffs while he was a member of the team but the fact is he stayed when there were other options.

He is one of the last of his kind in that respect and for Detroit fans that makes his induction even more important.

A great player who decided to stay in Detroit is much more than a fan favourite as the Red Wings’ hero enters the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of the greatest defenceman to ever step on the ice.

n-lidstrom.fw

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