With the release of the NHL schedule for the 2013-14 season few weeks back, the Detroit Red Wings announced today when they will retire the number of long-time defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
With Lidstrom, who played for the Wings for all of his 20 NHL seasons, it was never a matter of if they will retire his iconic No. 5, rather when they would retire it. With half of the season wiped out last year, the Wings will instead retire his jersey this upcoming season on March 6, 2014 against the Colorado Avalanche.
Lidstrom established himself as one of the best defenseman to ever play the game. Originally drafted by the Red Wings 58th overall in 1982, Lidstrom began his NHL career in 1991-92, tallying 11 goals and 49 assists in 80 games. Over the course of his NHL career, he scored 264 goals and contributed 878 assists in 1,564 career games. He was also a dominant playoff contender, tallying 183 points in 263 post season games.
In 1997 and 1998, Lidstrom helped the Red Wings to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships – the first two of four that he would eventually win as a Red Wing. The third came in 2002, where he was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner for best player in the playoffs, with the fourth coming as captain of the team in 2008. He has also won seven Norris Trophies as the best defender in the league.
It’s fitting that Lidstrom will have his number retired against the Colorado Avalanche, who the Red Wings shared a fierce rivalry with during the mid-to-late 1990’s. Former Avalanche player Joe Sakic, who was captain of the Avalanche during that period, is currently the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the team, while Patrick Roy, who had a memorable center-ice brawl with Red Wings goaltender Mike Vernon (and later Chris Osgood), was recently named head coach of the team.
It’s likely that former teammates like Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Tomas Holmstrom and Chris Osgood will be on site for the festivities. Steve Yzerman, who Lidstrom succeeded as captain of the team and was last to have his number retired by the Red Wings, is unlikely to make it due to his obligations as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning.