What follows is the complete transcript: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Julie Young with the NHL's public relations department and I'd like to welcome you today to the media conference call with Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Thank you to Nick for taking the time to join us today and to the Red Wings' John Hahn for helping to arrange the call. Nick captured the 2007 Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman for the fifth time in the past six seasons and earned his eighth career berth on the first All-Star team. He tied for the league lead among defensemen in plus-minus with a plus-40 rating, ranked third among all players with an average of 27 minutes and 29 seconds of ice time per game, and was fifth among defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 49 assists for 62 points. Nick has played 15 NHL seasons, all with Detroit, and has tallied 886 career points on 202 goals, 666 assists, ranking second among active defensemen in assists behind teammate Chris Chelios, who has 754. Thanks again to Nick for joining us and we'll now open it up for questions. Question:
With the hit by (Steve) Downie on (Dean) McAmmond last night, hits to the head have come up again. How do you think that is being enforced presently and how would you like to see hits to the head be enforced in the future? LIDSTROM:
I think it should be reinforced strongly, especially leaving your feet and going for the head, especially blindsided like he got last night. I just saw it briefly this morning. But those are the kind of things that we don't need in this league and I think we have to really set an example when things like that happen. So I think they should be looking strongly at things like that, especially blows to the head. Q:
Could you talk about the Central Division a little bit. A lot of changes over the summer. Can you talk about what your rivals are looking like at this point? LIDSTROM:
Well, I haven't played against any of them really yet. I think the Blackhawks added some players that I think will help them up front. We've seen Robert Lang, he has been with us for a few years, I think he's going to be a good centerman and a good offensive player for the Blackhawks. I think Nashville lost a couple players with (Kimmo) Timonen who was a big leader on their team, their captain. I think he was one of the biggest assets they had on the blueline. Same with (Scott) Hartnell, as well, losing him. I think they're still going to be a strong team because they're playing a real strict system where they're not really giving up a whole lot on the defensive end. I think Nashville will still be a good team.
St. Louis and Columbus, I haven't really seen a whole lot of what they've been doing. I know St. Louis added (Paul) Kariya which adds speed to their lineup, especially up front. I think we're going to have some tough games in our division. I think teams, especially a team like Chicago, can improve with the players they added. Q:
Could you go a bit further in terms of what Paul Kariya might bring in terms of the Blues? Is there a leadership presence with him, as well? LIDSTROM:
I think so. I think he can help their team in the locker room, as well. Having a speedy winger like Paul, you're going to have someone to look out for all the time, who can create separations, who can bring back the D. The D is going to be a step back when he's coming with that speed he's got. I think he'll be an asset for their team, as well, just with the speed that he brings to their team. Q:
Last season the Red Wings were real close in the Anaheim series. What kind of summer was it to reflect back how close you were to getting to the final and maybe winning it all? LIDSTROM:
We thought that we had a great opportunity to be in the final and fight for the Stanley Cup. I thought we had some unlucky breaks in that Anaheim series. You know, being without Mathieu Schneider and Nik Kronwall didn't help us. Having two top-four defensemen not playing in that series hurt us a bit. Even though we were missing some players, we were real close to taking the next step.
It's disappointing, but on the other hand we have some young players that really got a great experience out of playing in the playoffs and going deep in the playoffs and realizing what it takes to win. It's a completely different mentality once you reach the playoffs. Hopefully our younger players learned a lot from last year's experience. Q:
There's such a fine line in the playoffs between winning and losing sometimes. Certainly your series with Anaheim indicates that. A lot of teams want to imitate the champions, yet an overtime goal at the right moment for Detroit and a way different style would be imitated. Do you find that somewhat peculiar? LIDSTROM:
I think we've seen that when I first broke into the league, too. Teams started playing a little bit more defensively, especially the expansion teams were focusing on playing good defensive style and not giving up too many scoring chances. I think a lot of teams imitated that back in the '90s. I think the Devils are a good example of teams trying to play like the Devils did in the '90s.
Even now with the way the game has changed from the past five or six years, you know, it's more a speed game now with the referees calling hooking and holding. You got to be a good skating team. I think that's what you see now, teams being a lot faster, using their speed a lot more. Q:
That close to winning the Cup, your style can win the championship?LIDSTROM:
We feel that, yeah, we can win the championship with the style that we have. I think we're tough to play against, meaning that we try to keep teams on the outside, try giving them shots from bad angles, counting on our goalies to make the saves, kind of pushing teams on the outside. That's the style we're playing defensively.
Offensively we try to be creative and use our speed. I think we're going to be a little quicker this year than last year. That's one of the things we've been working on, using our speed a lot more. Q:
I don't know what I'm more amazed about, you winning five Norris Trophies or Chris Chelios going and going and going. How long do you think Chris will play? LIDSTROM:
You know, I don't see him slowing down at all. I can see him playing even next year, too. You know, he's such a competitor, Cheli. You're never going to get that out of him. His off-ice conditioning is great, too. If you look at him, you don't think he's 45 the way he works out, takes care of himself in the off-season. That's one of the big reasons he's still in the league, too. Q:
You're an elder statesman in the league, considered a spokesman not only for your team but the league as well. In light of the Downie hit on McAmmond, how responsible are players for their own safety on ice? LIDSTROM:
I think in a way you are responsible for your own safety, too. You can't be facing the boards when you're a few feet away. You got to think about things like that. But I think the players have to respect one another, too. You can't jump and get your elbows up in someone's face or head. Those are the kind of things that we have to respect our fellow players a lot more. We have to shy away from that.
It's OK, fighting is still legal. You can still score often, have a good honest fight. But I think we have to get rid of the cheap shots, the ones to the head and the ones blindsiding and jumping. That's what we have to get away from. Q:
It seems like in the last couple of years there's been many hits to the head of that nature. What does the league or the (players' association) or the players themselves do to get this out of the game? What can they do? LIDSTROM:
It's been talked about amongst the players and with the league as well, that we have to shy away from it and stop doing it. I think suspension is one thing. You can look at a more severe suspension if it happens. And if it's a repeat offender, you can look at even more seriously.
I think that's one of the things that the league can do, suspension. They can get a guy if it happens a lot. Just a matter of respecting one another a lot more than what we've seen here in the last year or two. Q:
You mentioned that respect again. Is there a lack of respect among players compared to in the previous generations? LIDSTROM:
Maybe a little bit. I think we had a bit more tougher guys in our lineups when I first broke into the league 15 years ago where that kind of took care of itself on the ice. You still have the cheap shots or the blindsided shots, but you had more -- I think you had more respect amongst each other, too, with that older generation, where if you had something like that happen, you would have players square off and kind of take care of that business on the ice.
I think with the roster being as it is, we got 23 players, you're looking at more fighting going down, you see more players, you know, playing a lot more and you see fights on the ice. I think that could be one of the reasons why it's going up, too. Q:
How do you feel about this team and the direction it's taking, especially with the younger guys from last year? LIDSTROM:
We feel great about our team. Like I mentioned, we've lost some veteran players in Mathieu Schneider, (Todd) Bertuzzi, Robert Lang. But the guys that are going to get an opportunity to play more are (Johan) Franzen, (Valtteri) Filppula is going to get a bigger role, (Jiri) Hudler is going to get a chance to play on the top two lines. We've seen just the younger players get a bigger role on our teams.
I think from what they went through last year in the playoffs, I think that's going to help us going into this year with the experience or just being around the team. Even though you didn't play, being around the team, seeing what it takes to prepare for a long playoff run. The younger players will get a bigger role in our team, are going to get a bigger opportunity to contribute, too.