DETROIT – They were drafted together. Now they’ll ride into hockey immortality together.
On Monday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov, teammates for 12 seasons during the Red Wings’ resurgence to Stanley Cup glory, are among the latest inductees for enshrinement later this year.
“We played on some great teams together with some great players,” Lidstrom said of his time with Fedorov. “I think we had a great coach in Scotty Bowman, too, that was able to lead us in the right path and we had a lot of fun along the way, too. We won lots but we had a lot of fun doing it too.”
The Wings teammates, both drafted by Detroit in 1989, will be inducted – along with Chris Pronger, Phil Housley, Angela Ruggiero, Peter Karmanos Jr. and Bill Hay – during a Nov. 9 ceremony in Toronto.
Lidstrom, Fedorov and Pronger each was chosen in his first year of eligibility.
Lidstrom, 45, retired having won the Norris Trophy seven times, the Stanley Cup four times and an Olympic gold medal for good measure.
In his 20-season NHL career, Lidstrom produced 1,142 points in 1,564 regular-season games. He is sixth all time in points among defensemen. He was the first European player – -born and trained – to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, doing so in 2002, and he was first to captain a Stanley Cup champion, in 2008.
A member of the elite Triple Gold Club, Lidstrom won gold medals while playing for Sweden at the World Championships in 1991 and the 2006 Turin Olympics. He represented Sweden four times in the Olympics.
Still, with such a large portfolio to choose from, Lidstrom said it’s difficult to pinpoint one career highlight as his favorite.
“It’s hard to pick a game, but you know the Stanley Cup finals are special,” he said. “They’re special to be a part of. They’re special to play in. I think the 2002 Cup that we won … that was a special team that we had. We had an All-Star cast that played as a team and guys accepted their roles even though you might not get the ice time that you got on other teams. You might have been a 40 or 50 goal scorer on other teams, but you accepted the role on our team for the team’s best. That’s what won us the Cup that year. So that one game, I believe the second game, we played at home it was special. I scored a goal in it, but the triple-overtime goal is what I remember the best when Igor Larionov scored in triple overtime down in Carolina. That was a special goal and a special game for us.”
The impending inductions of Lidstrom and Fedorov brings the Red Wings’ count to nine enshrined players –Larionov, Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Brendan Shanahan – off their 2002 team that defeated Carolina in the Cup finals.
|Sergei Fedorov moves along the boards with fellow Hall-of-Fame inductee Chris Pronger in pursuit. (Photo by Getty Images) |
Fedorov played 13 seasons with the Red Wings, before capping an 18-season career with stops in Anaheim, Columbus and Washington. He registered 483 goals and 1,179 points in 1,248 games. Now 45 years old, Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP following a spectacular 1993-94 season. He also won the Selke Trophy twice (1994, 1996) as best defensive forward, and three Stanley Cups as the central figure in the Red Wings’ Russian Five.
A tremendous athletic and excellent skater, perhaps the best the game has ever seen, Fedorov was poetry on ice.
“Sergei was such a dynamic player, being able to skate at that speed but stick-handle at the same time and having excellent vision too,” Lidstrom said. “He was a very smart player and I know he was hard to play against too. That was a treat to play with Sergei and the team that we had in ’01 and ’02.”
Pronger concurred with Lidstrom, saying, “the first thing you think of his skating ability, his hockey sense and his innate ability for the puck to follow him around. He was always in the right spot, always in the perfect outlet position and, you know, one-on-one with talent and skill level and skating ability he was tough to handle.”
Fedorov legend only grew stronger when, out of necessity with mounting injuries along the blue line, he changed positions at Bowman’s urging.
“It showed first of all what great of a skater he was, being able to play that position,” Lidstrom said. “It’s not easy for a forward going back and playing defense, but Sergei did it in an excellent way and it shows just how talented he was. Moving from one position to the other and now all of a sudden you’re defending your zone a lot more than when you’re playing forward. It just shows how talented Sergei was a player.”