Retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride rather than have the game walk away from me.”
Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the all-time greatest defensemen in the history of the NHL retires after 20 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Sports Illustrated wonders if Lidstrom was the MVP of his era, while Mitch Albom writes in Smiles, tears for Hockeytown hero Nicklas Lidstrom:
It is hard to describe the atmosphere at Lidstrom’s farewell. It was as professional as any I’ve ever witnessed, as emotional as a Swedish good-bye likely ever gets, and as thorough as — well, as Lidstrom’s famous preparation for the game he loved.
The Wings captain read from a statement, then free-formed eloquently, then thanked a laundry list of teammates and coaches — but also thanked the ushers, the equipment guys, the team doctors, the media, even Frank, the guy who fills up the water bottles, and Leslie, “who serves us lunch.”
The fact that Lidstrom knows them, recalls their names, and chose to include them in his biggest career announcement tells you pretty much all you need to know.
Lidstrom retires as the active NHL leader in regulation and playoff games played as well as plus-minus. He finished second amongst active players in playoff points and third in regular-season points. Among his accomplishments are SEVEN Norris Trophies, being the first European player to captain a Stanley Cup champion, being named a first-team All-Star 10 times between 1998 and 2011 and being the first European player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The Detroit News has a great video of his retirement speech and you can watch highlights from his career below.