DETROIT - Nicklas Lidstrom says his oldest son is enrolled in a Swedish school for the fall - just in case he decides to retire.
The Detroit Red Wings star acknowledged that will be a factor. "It's part of the decision," he said Monday, two days after the end of his 18th NHL season. "It's something we had to do to make sure we're covered on both ends." Lidstrom said if he chooses to re-sign with the Red Wings, his 16-year-old son Kevin will return to attend school in suburban Detroit.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Lidstrom is too good to quit playing in the NHL and expects him to return because the team will be better next season and he likes winning.
"I don't get the feel that he's leaving," said Babcock, who has coached Lidstrom for five seasons. "I think he's staying to play more hockey because he's got too much left. If we weren't a good team, he'd have no interest in coming back."
San Jose eliminated the Red Wings in Game 5 of their second-round series.
Detroit star Henrik Zetterberg said he and his teammates will lobby Lidstrom to return.
"We'll do all we can," said Zetterberg, a fellow Swede. "We all hope and wish he will be here next year, but it's going to be up to him and his family to make that decision."
Lidstrom was honoured as the NHL's best defenceman two years ago for a sixth time, putting his Norris Trophy collection behind only Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland, who is regarded as one of the league's best executives, is expected to sign a contract extension soon.
"He ain't going anywhere," Red Wings senior vice-president Jim Devellano said. "He's going to be with us for a long, long time."
The team isn't so sure how much longer Steve Yzerman will be employed by the franchise because NHL teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning may decide to hire him to lead their front office. The Hall of Fame player, who has only worked for the Red Wings in the league, led Canada to men's hockey gold as Hockey Canada executive director at the Vancouver Game and has learned how to work in an NHL front office under Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill.
"Steve is in a terrific position," Devellano said. "He is an icon here, he's a vice-president, he works tremendously well with our group.
"He does want to be a general manager at some point, but as he has often says, it has to be right for him and right for his family."