NASHVILLE -- With Detroit facing elimination on Friday, coach Mike Babcock was asked once again if this could be the final game for defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the seven-time Norris Trophy winner who will be 42 in a number of days.
First, Babcock was asked if Lidstrom is still bothered by an ankle injury that kept him sidelined late in the regular season.
"The great thing about that is you can ask Nick, so that gets me off the hook," he said. "… I think Nick Lidstrom retires when he thinks he's not a good player anymore, but I think he's been a pretty darn good player. I don't know what could possibly be more fun than playing hockey at a high level on a great team. And I know his wife, so she doesn't want him around, for sure. Why wouldn't you keep playing?"
Babcock was asked a follow-up.
"I say this every year so this is seven years for me I've answered this question," he said. "I always say the same thing: He's too good to quit."
It's a tribute to him, and everything he's done and deserved is coming to fruition tonight with his jersey in the rafters. He's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And I said today, if he's not, take my stuff out. If he doesn't deserve to be in there first ballot, no one does. Except for (Wayne) Gretzky, I guess.
— Hockey Hall of Fame member Brett Hull on former teammate Mike Modano, whose No. 9 was retired by the Dallas Stars on Saturday