– For the last five seasons, Nicklas Lidstrom
has been the leader of the Red Wings locker room. When the NHL All-Star Weekend begins on Jan. 28, Lidstrom will be in charge of a whole new locker room – and who fills it.
The Red Wings’ captain will play the role of general manager that day, when he and Carolina’s Eric Staal take turns in a fantasy draft selecting from a pool of NHL All-Stars. When the teams are complete, they will skate under the names Team Lidstrom and Team Staal in the first NHL All-Star that will have the teams decided by the players. Lidstrom and Staal were selected to be the two captains in the first All-Star game with the new format by the players who will participate that weekend.
“I’m very honored to be selected as a captain for the All-Star Game,” Lidstrom said after the Wings’ optional morning skate at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday. “It’ll be fun. It’s a different format, and I think it will be something exciting for the fans too, when draft day comes around.”
This is the 12th time Lidstrom has been chosen for the All-Star Game. Currently, the Wings’ captain leads all defensemen in scoring, with 11 goals and 31 assists. NHL PRESS RELEASE
Lidstrom said he wouldn’t decide which player he would select with his first draft choice until he converses with his assistant captains, who have yet to be named. Wings coach Mike Babcock said he hopes that Lidstrom will have plenty of help.
“He better get some assistant captains to share the pressure of that workload,” Babcock joked. “Selecting that team and all those big trades, you want to be able to pass the buck here a little bit.”Henrik Zetterberg
said that Lidstrom will have plenty of assistance coming from within the Red Wings’ locker room as the Jan. 28 draft day approaches.
“I think it’s awesome,” Zetterberg said. “It’s going to be fun to see when Nick picks the team, and what kind of strategy he will have.
“We haven’t really had the chance to discuss it yet, but I think we will definitely do that, and I think we’ll have a lot of voices from here helping him choose the players.”
One of the players available in the draft has already started lobbying to be selected for Team Lidstrom. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said he voted for the Wings’ captain.
“I wish I could play with him,” Letang said. “He’s a role model for me, I watched him a lot, and he’s a great example for every defenseman in this league.”
While Lidstrom will listen to his teammates, he said he is also going to seek advice from a ‘real’ general manager.
“Some of the guys in here have asked what I’m thinking and what I’ll try to do,” Lidstrom said. “I had a chance to talk to Ken Holland this morning, try to get some pointers from him, he should be a good guy to ask questions.
“He said he’ll think about it and he’ll come back to me. I’m sure it will be good pointers.”
Despite not having any Wings teammates available in the draft, Lidstrom is not feeling any pressure about selecting a team for the big weekend.
“I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the players,” the Wings’ captain said. “They’re all great players, and they’re all All-Stars going to the weekend. I don’t feel any pressure. I think it will be more exciting and fun. Especially for the fans, having the fans get to see something like that.”
Lidstrom said that he is excited to participate in the draft, saying that it reminds him of choosing sides in games with his friends.
“It’s just like when you’re a kid out on the pond, and you’re picking your team,” Lidstrom said. “Instead of throwing your sticks out in the middle, you’re picking the players, so it will be fun.”