Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
, who twice in this decade has three-peated as the winner of the Norris Trophy, is Sporting News‘ NHL player of the decade; the Red Wings are SN’s NHL team of the decade; coach Mike Babcock was named NHL coach of the decade; and executive vice president and general manager Ken Holland was named NHL executive of the decade.
The honors are part of a 14-page tribute to the athletes, coaches and teams of the 2000s in the new issue of the magazine, which arrives this week at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets. SN honored one athlete in each sport and enlisted the help of teammates, coaches and legends to make a case for both the winner and runner-up.
Said former Red Wings center Steve Yzerman: “Nicklas Lidstrom
won the Stanley Cup in ’02. He won the Cup in ’08. I don’t know how many Norris trophies he’s won, but throughout that entire time, throughout the entire decade, where he’s only missed a handful of games, he was the Red Wings’ best player. He’s one of the top defensemen on both ends of the rink. He’s got really good instincts, and he’s incredibly skilled. He’s a really, really intelligent hockey player. Nick is your best player in training camp. He’s your best player in preseason. He’s your best player in the regular season. He’s your best player in the playoffs. I’m not sure what else he could do.”
Lidstrom’s pick for his favorite moment of the decade?
“The first thing you think of is the Stanley Cup wins, whether it’s the one in ’02 or the one (in ’08)," he said. "Those two were special. In 2002, I won the Norris and Conn Smythe as well. Winning those two trophies, along with the Stanley Cup, makes that year stand out. We had a heck of a team that season. We signed Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull, Dominik Hasek—you can go down the line with the great players on that team. We had a real strong team and then lost the first two games of the playoffs against Vancouver in the first round. It was a tough playoff run, but the team responded well. We had some pressure on us, and it was gratifying to win with that team. Really gratifying..”
SN chose Lidstrom over Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
“The goaltender is the most important position for any Stanley Cup contender,” former Devils coach Larry Robinson argued. “You look at anybody who has won a Cup and you always point to the goalie. When we won in 2000, we wouldn’t have even gotten there if Marty didn’t stand on his head. He’s a terrific athlete, and he has that inner strength. The worst thing you can do is beat him because you know darn well the next game, you’re not going to come close against him. He’s the backbone of our club in Jersey. He makes the big stops, and he’s the No. 1 reason we’ve been successful. I compare him to all the great ones.”
Lidstrom also made SN’s NHL all-decade team:FIRST
F Joe Sakic
F Jaromir Jagr
F Jarome Iginla
D Nicklas Lidstrom
D Scott Niedermayer
G Martin BrodeurSECOND
F Sidney Crosby
F Vincent Lecavalier
F Alex Ovechkin
D Chris Pronger
D Zdeno Chara
G Jean-Sebastien Giguere