Retired Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said former Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux was the best player he faced during his career, according to a report in the Swedish newspaper Expressen.
"It was all about Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman," said Lidstrom, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November. "Lemieux had an incredible reach and some really good skills with his stick. Gretzky had that too, but he made all the players around him better. Individually, I would say Lemieux was the better player."
Lidstrom, 45, works for the Red Wings as a scout after playing in 1,827 NHL games in 20 seasons. He said he is pleased to see Swedish defensemen starring in the League.
"Erik Karlsson [of the Ottawa Senators] already is a world-class defenseman and I really enjoy seeing Victor Hedman [Tampa Bay Lightning] taking a big step in his career," Lidstrom said. "I'm also impressed by Hampus Lindholm [Anaheim Ducks], who plays against the top lines all the time. And of course, Oliver Ekman-Larsson; he's been the best [Arizona Coyotes] defenseman for years now."
Lidstrom also discussed a venture he is undertaking with retired Swedish tennis star Stefan Edberg. They are involved with Case, an asset-management company. Edberg is the majority stockholder.
"I want to learn more about the financial world, and to act as a co-partner as well as an ambassador for the company," Lidstrom said. "It's a whole new world to me. I know a little about this world, but there's still a lot to learn. I really feel like a rookie."
Edberg, 49, who won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon twice each, has had Lidstrom on the tennis courts a few times when they meet to discuss business in either Stockholm or Vaxjo, Edberg's hometown.
"It's a certain feeling to play against one of the best," Lidstrom said. "It was kind of awesome to realize that the harder I hit the ball, the harder it came back."
NHL.com/se writer Janne Bengtsson contributed to this story.