DETROIT -- The question has been kicked around a few times before, but now that Nicklas Lidstrom has made his retirement official it's time for the Detroit Red Wings to think about the answer for real.
Who will be wearing the captain's "C" on his sweater when the 2012-13 season begins?
Lidstrom wore it for six seasons, starting in 2007 after he inherited it from fellow Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman -- who retired after the 2006 season. Yzerman wore it for 22 seasons, so between the two the "C" has only been worn by two Wings in almost the past 30 years.
It's become a pretty big deal in Motown, and by the sounds of it there are three candidates -- all of whom are currently alternate captains. Henrik Zetterberg is the favorite for many speculators, while Niklas Kronwall is thought to be another strong candidate with dazzling center Pavel Datsyuk in the mix, as well.
END OF AN ERA: LIDSTROM RETIRES
Seven-time Norris winner Lidstrom retires
Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent
It was hard to believe, even with Nicklas Lidstrom speaking the words himself. The guy the Red Wings nicknamed "The Perfect Human" – their captain for the past six seasons and a sure lock for Hall of Fame status – is officially hanging up his winged-wheel sweater and retiring after 20 years in Detroit. READ MORE ›
"Three probably come to mind, Z, Pav and Kronner," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said following Lidstrom's retirement press conference Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. "They've got the ‘As.' It's hard to really think you're going to take somebody who didn't have a letter and go past guys with letters, barring what we do here over the next six weeks (in trades or free agency). But it's hard to think you're going to bring in somebody from the outside to be your captain, so in all reality one of our [alternates] will likely be the next captain."
Zetterberg and Datsyuk weren't in town for Lidstrom's press conference, but Kronwall attended. He was asked about potentially getting a promotion to captain, but initially deflected the prodding by saying it was a day to celebrate Lidstrom. He did, however, admit to knowing just how big of a deal wearing the "C" on a Red Wings sweater has become.
"It's an honor, no doubt," Kronwall said. "Right now, however, we should all focus on Nick Lidstrom. The other stuff will sort itself out in the next few months or so."
Along with Zetterberg, Lidstrom also brought up Kronwall's name as a potential successor for the captain's role when asked during his press conference.
"I might get asked my opinion of it, but I think the coaching staff and management will find a very good captain for this team," Lidstrom said. "I think there are a few candidates who are very fit to fill that role. Zetterberg has been a leader for a few years. Kronwall emerged as a leader. I think (Valtteri Filppula) is one of the leaders. There's a lot of leaders who don't necessarily wear a letter on their jersey, but are leaders in our room. One of those players will wear the ‘C' for sure."