– While Nicklas Lidstrom
was noncommittal when asked about his hockey-playing future Monday afternoon, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock sure sounded confident about the return of the team’s six-time Norris Trophy winner.
In his last address to the media before players and coaches went their separate ways Monday, Babcock said he's certain that the Wings’ captain will be back for a 19th season.
Lidstrom can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“I went to Nick and said what do you want me to tell (the media)?” Babcock said. “Nick said, ‘Tell them that my wife and I are going to hang out for a couple weeks and talk about it.’ Nick will be back.”
When asked to elaborate on the short sentence that Babcock added at the end, he said he meant what he said, and he wouldn’t have said anything otherwise.
“I didn’t just meet him,” Babcock said in reference to Lidstrom. “I just think he’ll be back. I’m not one bit concerned about that. He’s got too much good hockey left in him, and I think if he believed we didn’t have a chance to win, he might be different. But I believe he’s like the rest of us, we think we’re going to be right back knocking on the door.”
Lidstrom did not reveal any new thoughts in regards to the decision he will make this summer. However, he did confirm that his 16-year-old son, Kevin, is enrolled in a school in Sweden, in case the family decides to return to Lidstrom’s homeland.
“He had to,” said Lidstrom of his son, who is finishing his sophomore year at Detroit Catholic Central High School. “If we’re moving back, he had to have a place to go.”
Lidstrom emphasized that his son’s enrollment was only a precaution, and should not be viewed as an early sign to his decision.
“It’s going to be a lot of different factors,” he said. “Family is going to be part of the decision, how I feel, motivation, it’s going to be those factors coming into play.”
Babcock wasn’t the only person in the Wings’ locker room to voice confidently that Lidstrom will return. Pavel Datsyuk
, Lidstrom’s teammate of eight seasons, said he expects Lidstrom to continue playing, though not to the extent of former Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, who at 48, played in the AHL this season.
“I think Nick will be playing, for sure,” Datsyuk said. “How he plays, he can play more. I know he won’t play like Chelios, but two more years…I think he’s a top-five defenseman in the league now. And I’m happy to play with him.”