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Nicklas Lidstrom: 'I certainly didn't get here by myself'

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Nicklas Lidstrom said there is an old saying in Sweden that, when translated to English, means, "Things never turn out the way you imagined."

Lidstrom said that is reflective of his hockey career.

Lidstrom said he grew up like most kids shooting pucks in the backyard, playing at the local rink and dreaming of scoring the big goal in the championship game.

"But for all the dreams I had playing hockey as a child, I never imagined a night like this," Lidstrom said. "As kids who learn to fall in love with the game all the way through to being a professional, you play with one thing in mind: To win. Win the medal, win the Cup, win the series, the game. …every night you try your best to win, but you can't win this. You can't win the Hall of Fame. It's an honor that we have no control over and one I could never imagine as a kid shooting pucks in the driveway."

Lidstrom said it felt uncomfortable to be on stage alone.

"I certainly didn't get here by myself," he said. "It takes a team in all aspects of your life."

Lidstrom's defensive partner in his rookie season with the red Wings in 1991 was the late Brad McCrimmon who told him, "Being a pro means showing up ready to work every day."

Lidstrom took those words to heart.

In 20 seasons in the NHL, all with the Detroit Red Wings, Lidstrom won the Stanley Cup four times and only missed 46 games. Twelve of those game were in his final season and some others he did not play in were late in the season when he was held out of the lineup to rest for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are three highlights of Lidstrom's speech:

1. The helping hands

Ask anyone who ever coached Lidstrom and they will tell you what an amazing player and person he was. During his acceptance speech, Lidstrom took the opportunity to thank the men who helped shape his career.

Among those he thanked were former Red Wings general manager Bryan Murray, saying, "He gave me an opportunity to play over here."

Lidstrom also thanked his former coaches Scotty Bowman and Mike Babcock.

"[Bowman] took my game to another level. He gave me confidence by playing me a lot and really pushed me to be a better player.

"Babs helped me become a leader on this team and he coached me to stay at the level where I wanted to be."

Lidstrom also mentioned Red Wings assistant coaches Dave Lewis and Barry Smith, saying, "They were very important to my career. Lewis taught me how to play defense in the NHL.

2. Steve Yzerman

Lidstrom was presented his Hall of Fame plaque by former teammate Steve Yzerman who preceded him as captain of the Red Wings. Lidstrom became the Red Wings captain in 2006 and said he had a great mentor in Yzerman to teach him the ropes of being a leader.

"I had a lot of learning to do both on and off the ice," Lidstrom said. "I had to learn to be a pro, learn to lead, learn what it takes to win and I learned it from Steve Yzerman. His dedication was at a level I had never seen before. The lessons I learned from Steve were some of the biggest reasons why I was so successful. I did my best to carry on the tradition and culture he built."

3. History 101

When Lidstrom first arrived in Detroit, he knew very little of the Red Wings' history. So little in fact that he asked if he could wear No. 9. The equipment manager set the rookie straight informing Lidstrom that No. 9 was retired having been worn by Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe.

"I got my first lesson in Red Wings history," Lidstrom quipped.

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