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Five Questions With...

Five Questions with Nicklas Lidstrom

Hall of Fame defenseman discusses Red Wings rebuild, helping pave path to NHL for Sweden-born players

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com'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 Detroit Red Wings Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom:

 

TORONTO -- Nicklas Lidstrom was walking through Scotiabank Arena on Friday when a spectator yelled a question in his direction.

"Hey Nick, when are you going to rejoin the Red Wings? We need you!"

The 49-year-old Hall of Fame defenseman didn't seem to hear what the fan said, so it was repeated to him by a reporter.

"I've only skated about three times in the past year," he replied with a chuckle. "I think those days are over."

Of course, he did have one more game left in him during Hall of Fame weekend. And, like he did for most of his career, the seven-time Norris Trophy winner as the top defenseman in the NHL did what he did for most of his illustrious 20-season career, which ended in 2012.

Win.

In the end, Team Lidstrom defeated Team (Mats) Sundin 12-11 in a shootout in the Haggar Hall of Fame Legends Classic at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday. Lidstrom even chipped in with a goal, showing he still has a bit of the offensive flair that resulted in 1,142 points (264 goals, 878 assists) in 1,564 NHL games.

Lidstrom said he was privileged to be part of a Red Wings team that reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs every season of his NHL career. These are much leaner times for Detroit, however, as the Red Wings have not made the postseason since 2016.

Here are Five Questions with … Nicklas Lidstrom:

 

The Red Wings are in full rebuild mode right now, with Steve Yzerman having come back from Tampa Bay to be general manager. How much patience do Detroit fans need to have?

"I think it's going to take some time. I don't think it's going to be a quick fix. I don't think there are any quick fixes. They're gathering key pieces for their rebuild. And I really think it helps having Stevie there. If you take what he's done for the team in the past and what he's done in Tampa, he's a proven GM. I think he's the right man to build this team. He's shown he knows what it takes to put a team together. With time he'll be able to do that with the Wings too."

Video: Nicklas Lidstrom won seven Norris Trophies

 

You were part of the Red Wings' remarkable streak of 25-consecutive playoff appearances (1990-91 to 2015-16). Does it seem even more amazing now that the team is trying to claw its way back in?

"It was an amazing run, sure. But you didn't look at it that way when you were part of it. Every year you were out to win and make the playoffs. That was the goal. Anything less was a disappointment. You took it year to year."

 

Interesting that you and Mats Sundin were the headliners in the alumni game this weekend. You were the marquee names for a long time when it came to Sweden-born NHL players. How much do you think you two opened the doors for young players in Sweden with dreams of making the NHL one day?

"I think in a sense we've done just that. Let's face it; Borje Salming was the guy who opened the door for guys like Mats and I. He came to the Maple Leafs in (1973) and showed Swedes could play in the NHL. And then I think Mats and myself to a lot of the kids who are coming in today. Both Mats and I were captains. We showed we can be leaders in the NHL. And I think it's helped more and more Swedes find their way into the NHL.

 

Which active Sweden-born NHL players impress you the most these days?

"There's a lot of them. William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs), who I saw against the (Boston) Bruins, he's standing out with all his skill. Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo Sabres) is another guy. He's so young and his career is all ahead of him. Erik Karlsson (San Jose Sharks), he's a proven player and he's won a couple of Norris Trophies. Like I said, there's a lot of good young Swedes in the NHL. Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks) is another guy who's been impressive, winning the Calder as rookie of the year last season. Sweden is still producing a lot of good young players."

Instagram from @zeechara33: Absolutely admire this man,playing against him was almost surreal and anytime his games were on, I was glued to the TV.Such a gentleman too, or as we like to say a Perfect human.Thank you for stoping by Nick!#5#legend #pursuitofperfectionbook #hhofnight

 

Finally, you had the opportunity to chat with Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara after the Hall of Fame game between the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Friday. Chara subsequently posted a photo of the two of you on his Instagram account, zeechara33 accompanied by the words: "Absolutely admire this man, playing against him was almost surreal and anytime his games were on, I was glued to the TV. Such a gentleman too, or as we like to say a Perfect human. Thank you for stopping by Nick!" Will he be joining you in the Hall of Fame one day?

"Definitely. Except his Hall of Fame jacket will be twice as big as mine. (Laughs). Seriously, he's such a class act. And even at (42) he keeps playing so effectively. I think the most amazing thing is the shape he keeps himself in. It's remarkable. He keeps on going. It's fun to watch."

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