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Five Questions: Lidstrom discusses life after hockey

by Dan Rosen's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom:

NEW YORK -- Barely noticed in the crowd, future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom went to get a hot dog with his wife Annika after the first period of the Detroit Red Wings game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 5.

It's not often Lidstrom can walk around without being stopped for an autograph or picture, selfie or otherwise, but there he was with his wife, nobody getting in the way of them and their dinner.

Lidstrom, not surprisingly, was smiling as they walked around like any other couple at the Garden. Of course, they are not any other couple. He is not any other fan.

Lidstrom, as close to a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2015 as there can be, lives in Sweden and rarely gets to go to a rink without being noticed. However, he was with his wife in New York on a vacation that not coincidentally coincided with a Red Wings game at MSG.

Former Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom retired from the NHL in 2012. (Photo: Getty Images)

He had a seat in the press box because it allowed him to sit and talk about the game, the Red Wings, prospects and pros, with general manager Ken Holland. Lidstrom said he keeps tabs on the Red Wings from his home through highlights and the odd game he gets to see live.

"With the time change I see the highlights, and games that are afternoon games here I'll watch," he said. "I'm watching most of the highlights from almost every game. I don't have a whole lot to gauge on, but they've been playing well. They're having some trouble scoring goals overall, so scoring needs to get better and the power play has to get better. If the power play gets better scoring will go up. That's a big key for the team now."

A big key for Lidstrom now is enjoying his life out of the spotlight, even though he always seemed comfortable and acted with the utmost professionalism when he was in it.

He spoke to about his new life in Sweden, his thoughts on some young Swedes in the NHL, what he might want to eventually do later in life, and the four players who were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Toronto for this Q&A:

Here are Five Questions with … Nicklas Lidstrom:

What do you do to keep busy?

"I do watch some games at home with our Swedish scout Hakan Andersson and I'm helping out with my kids, my youngest son's hockey team now. I started out with my 14-year-old the last couple of years, but this fall I'm helping out with my 11-year-old. That's been a lot of fun. I also do some business on the side. I am involved with some real estate business in Sweden. But I really enjoy helping my son's team, especially the young kids. They love being at the rink. They love being on the ice. They love playing games. It's fun to see them develop. It's great being around the kids all the time now."

Do you feel that when you're around them you absolutely have their attention? I mean, you're Nicklas Lidstrom, they know who you are, right?

"Maybe not my own kids (laughs). Sometimes what I say gets through to them, but sometimes I'm just like any other dad talking to the kids and they'll block me out. I'm not giving them a whole lot of advice all the time. I give them some pointers here and there. Not my kids, but the other kids are really in more awe than my sons. That's great. Those young kids ask a ton of questions all the time."

Who are some of the guys in the NHL now that have impressed you and continue to impress you and make you think, 'Man I wish I got a chance to play with that guy?'

"The first player that comes to mind is Erik Karlsson, although he did play when I played, but I never played with him. Watching him play is a lot of fun. Being from Sweden I tend to watch the Swedes a lot more. Hampus Lindholm from Anaheim has been playing real well, logging a lot of minutes and playing against top players at a young age. That's impressive. Jonas Brodin is doing the same thing in Minnesota. He's paired with Ryan Suter all the time and he's a top defenseman matching up against the opponent's top lines. That's impressive when you see young players, particularly defensemen, lining up and playing against top players every game."

Do you get the itch to do more, or are you OK with what you have going on in your life now? And if the itch comes back, what do you want to do?

"I do watch some games at home with our Swedish scout Hakan Andersson and I'm helping out with my kids, my youngest son's hockey team now. I started out with my 14-year-old the last couple of years, but this fall I'm helping out with my 11-year-old. That's been a lot of fun." -- Nicklas Lidstrom

"I'm OK right now. I think once the kids get a little older maybe the itch will come back. I really do enjoy coming back and watching the games live to see the pace while watching games from up here [the press box]. When I was playing I didn't watch many games from up here, so I enjoy this and doing this now. I really enjoy coming back to watch NHL games because of the pace. It does seem very fast. It seems fast from all four lines. They all have great speed. That's impressive to watch when you're up here, above the stands. It's a high-pace game. It's so different than watching on TV.

"We'll see what I want to do and if I still want to do it down the road, but I enjoy watching games, talking to Kenny about the team. It's just a lot of fun now."

What are your memories and thoughts about the former players in the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2014: Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, Rob Blake and Mike Modano?

"Most people have seen the skill that Forsberg had, but it was the will he had too, being a stubborn player and hard to play against. It seemed like he was a step ahead of everyone else knowing where players would be, and he could make a pass or hang on to it and do it on his own too. He was always nose-first into all situations.

"Dom was a tremendous competitor. Even in practice he hated losing. He seemed to step it up the more important the games got. That style of his, that unorthodox style, he just stopped the puck. He didn't maybe look like a traditional goalie, but could stop the puck. The one that sticks out the most with Dom is he was such a competitor, and that's what made him so good.

"For Rob Blake, he was a leader every time you played against him. He played a ton of minutes, important minutes, against top lines. Whether it was a tough game or a skill game, he could do both. He had that great shot of his. He was another guy competing all the time. Well-deserved going into the Hall.

"And when I first came into the League and Mike Modano was in Minnesota, you always had to know where he was on the ice because he had that tremendous speed, quick shot, quick release. I had a chance to play with him late in his career, but in his early years in Minnesota and Dallas he was the guy you had to keep an eye on all the time. He could skate. He could score goals. He was always a threat."


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