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Celebrating Lidstrom, Fedorov

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
During his Hall of Fame speech, Sergei Fedorov said, ''I'm a Red Wing at heart.' (Photo by Getty Images)

TORONTO -- They were drafted together in 1989, roomed together in the '90s and now Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov have been enshrined together in the 2015 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Although there were many members of the Red Wings organization, including owners Mike and Marian Ilitch, there to celebrate the occasion, there were also others who have moved on to other teams who wanted to be there.

Steve Yzerman, currently the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and former teammate of both Lidstrom and Fedorov, knows how difficult it is to find players like those two.

Even more incredible is the fact that Lidstrom was taken in the third round and Fedorov the fourth round of the '89 draft.

"Those guys are the equivalent of getting a first overall pick," Yzerman said. "Those players turned the franchise around. There were some stumbling blocks along the way but we never looked back."

Former Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill, now the general manager of the Dallas Stars, also came to watch the induction of two players he saw grow up in the Wings organization.

"I'm just here really to thank them," Nill said. "I've got four rings because of what they did. I just kind of jumped on their back and watched them play. They're special, special players and special people."

If anyone knows special players, it's coach Scotty Bowman.

Bowman is not only in the Hall of Fame himself, he has coached countless players who ended up there as well.

He minced no words when asked where Lidstrom and Fedorov rank among them: "They're right at the top."

Fedorov was first to speak among the seven inductees.

"I got so lucky and I'd like to thank Mr. Ilitch and family for giving me the opportunity to be a Red Wing," Fedorov said. "I'm a Red Wing at heart. Since day one when I arrived in the Detroit area, Michigan, everywhere I went I received a warm welcome. I played there 13 seasons and we won three Cups. I spent the best days of my life in this organization."

Fedorov thanked Bowman and his first NHL coach, Bryan Murray.

"Bryan is fighting for his life," Fedorov said. "I found out one day and I gave him a call. He was doing great and I wish him all the best. My thoughts and prayers are with him."

Murray has been battling cancer.

While thanking his family, Fedorov revealed that his wife could not make the trip from Russia because she is expecting their first child.

Lidstrom had all four of his sons, Kevin, Adam, Samuel and Lucas, in the crowd along with his wife, Annika.

"I appreciate all that Annika has done as a wife and mother," Lidstrom said. "She possesses equal parts love and patience. She needs every bit of that as she's the only woman in the house with four, well, let's make that five boys. I certainly wouldn't be up here without her."

Lidstrom said none of the Wings would have had the success they had without owners who are committed to winning.

"I can't imagine having better owners than Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch," Lidstrom said. "Their commitment allowed me to be a part of four Stanley Cup championships. Just as important, they really cared about me and my family. They made us all a part of their family. They not only made winning possible, they made it even more special."

Lidstrom also said he wouldn't be where he is without the things he learned from Yzerman.

"Learning what it meant to be a pro, learning how to lead, learning what it takes to win, I learned that from Steve Yzerman," Lidstrom said. "His dedication and will were at a level I had never seen before. The lessons I learned from Steve are some of the biggest reasons why I was successful. It was both an honor and a tremendous responsibility to be the captain that followed Steve and I did my best to carry on that tradition and culture that he built."

Lidstrom learned those lessons so well that he earned the nickname the "Perfect Human."

Tomas Holmstrom, who spent plenty of time with Lidstrom on and off the ice, said the nickname is well-deserved.

"It hurts to say but he was pretty perfect off the ice, too," Holmstrom said. "So I try to get him going, get him mad, but I couldn't get under his skin, I can't."

Luc Robitaille, who was part of the legendary 2002 Stanley Cup-winning team, marveled at Lidstrom's perfection.

"When you played with him, he just never made a mistake," Robitaille said. "He's one of those players you couldn't find him making a mistake, which is truly amazing. Because you play sports, sports is about mistakes and he played the whole game without mistakes. That's what made him so great as a player. But off the ice, he's just a special human being that we all cherished and felt privileged to be his teammate."

Lidstrom believes he and Fedorov aren't the last of the 2002 team that will make it to the Hall of Fame.

"After tonight, there will be 12 people in the Hall of Fame from that 2002 Red Wings team and we might add a couple more in the years to come," Lidstrom said.

"All of that goes to prove that this really is a team sport and my success is really our success."

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