"First of all, congratulations on a spectacular career," Bettman said. "Thank you for all the thrills you've given us. Thank you for the classy, terrific way you've always represented our League and our game and the Red Wings."
Lidstrom, a seven-time winner of the Norris Trophy and a four-time Stanley Cup champion, reiterated some of the comments he made at his news conference earlier in the day about coming to the conclusion that he didn't have the same drive necessary to continue playing at an elite level.
END OF AN ERA: LIDSTROM RETIRES
Seven-time Norris winner Lidstrom retiresBrian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent
It was hard to believe, even with Nicklas Lidstrom speaking the words himself. The guy the Red Wings nicknamed "The Perfect Human" – their captain for the past six seasons and a sure lock for Hall of Fame status – is officially hanging up his winged-wheel sweater and retiring after 20 years in Detroit. READ MORE ›
"After we lost in the playoffs I've been kind of giving it a few weeks to rest and heal up my body and mind as well, and then once I started working out again I came to this conclusion," Lidstrom said. "I feel it's the right one. I've been debating the last couple years on what to do after every season, but I didn't have this feeling as I have now in the past."
The 42-year-old said he plans to move his family back home to his native Sweden, where his oldest son is still in school.
"It hasn't been all that difficult because we really enjoyed our time in Detroit," he said about the conflicting emotions of continuing to play in the NHL while being far away from his extended family. "It's a great city to live in and a great fan base for hockey, so we really enjoyed everything about Detroit. The one thing we've missed is our family. We're a very close-knit family. We're very close to our parents, my wife and I, and they're getting older, they're retired now, so we felt that we want to be closer to them as they get older. And I have a lot of siblings that have kids as well, so my kids are looking forward to spending more time with their cousins."
While there was no shortage of great memories from the time Detroit selected Lidstrom in the third round of the 1989 NHL Draft to the day less than six weeks ago when he played in his final game against the Predators in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he pointed to the 1997 championship as one that stands out in particular.
"Just the parade that we had downtown, having people, old people coming up to you, thanking you for bringing back the Stanley Cup after 40-some years of not having won it," Lidstrom said. "And just the feeling that you've accomplished something as a team and as a group. I think that kind of got the city together, too. I've won it multiple times, but just the parade in itself is something special. To go down Woodward [Avenue] and see all the fans come out. We've had a great fan base there in Detroit, so just the pleasure of seeing the fans up close that way has really been a pleasure for me."
Rob Blake, once part of the same fraternity of great blueliners and now a manager in the Department of Player Safety, also addressed Lidstrom's retirement during an appearance on "NHL Hour."
"I've read a lot of articles today and I've seen a lot of things and they talk about class -- and I don't know if there's another player that played with that amount of class on and off the ice," Blake said. "They talk about the perfect human, and as close as you can possibly be would be Nick Lidstrom. I was fortunate -- as a player sometimes I would have video coaches tape games of Nick and different shifts just to understand how he played the game at that level. So pretty amazing, great career, and happy for him."