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Lidstrom signs one-year contract

by Phil Coffey
Nicklas Lidstrom signed a one-year deal Tuesday to remain with the Red Wings, ending speculation that the team captain and multiple Norris Trophy winner would retire. Next season will be his 19th in the NHL, all with Detroit, the organization he broke into the League with in 1991-92.

"I get to watch him every day," general manager Ken Holland told the team's official Web site. "I still think that Nick is the premier two-way defenseman in the world. There might be some players maybe a little bit more productive, offensively, but I think when you factor in how good Nick is defensively, how he played the last half of the year, certainly the last 30 games … I still think we have one -- if not the -- best defensemen in the world. It's a great day for Red Wings' fans."

Lidstrom, 40, scored 9 goals and 40 assists and was a plus-22 in 82 regular-season games. He finished tied for eighth among League defensemen in points, tied for seventh in plus-minus, and seventh in shots (194). In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he scored 4 goals and 6 assists in 12 games.

For his illustrious career, Lidstrom has played in 1,412 regular-season contests, scoring 237 goals 809 assists and is a startling plus-431.

In the playoffs, Lidstrom has scored 50 goals and 125 assists in 247 games and is plus-53.

Lidstrom was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Speculation rose that he was planning to retire when he enrolled his son in a school in Sweden, but Lidstrom downplayed the talk, noting the enrollment was a move the family needed to make if Lidstrom were to opt for retirement.

All along, the Red Wings wanted Lidstrom back and coach Mike Babcock said he was proceeding along the lines that his captain would return for 2010-11. "I don't have a timetable," Lidstrom said after the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs in the second round. But he also didn't want to handicap the Red Wings in free agency if he opted to leave, so Tuesday's decision was expected sooner rather than later.

Lidstrom has won four Stanley Cups with the Wings, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008. He also is the first European-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs, and in 2008 became the only European-born captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup. Lidstrom took over as Red Wings' captain following Steve Yzerman's retirement and has won six Norris Trophies in his career.

"We've obviously been spoiled here for the last 18 years," Holland said. "We're watching, what I think, is the greatest defenseman of his era, and I think when he's done he will go down as one of the top defensemen in the history of the game.

"I think part of me saying that is because it's his longevity. The ability to win the Norris Trophy at the age of 38. And be recognized at the age of 39 by your peers as the best shutdown defenseman. Not only was he a great player in his time, he's been a great player for a long time."
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