Kronwall will join Red Wings' hockey operations staff in advisory role
DETROIT - Niklas Kronwall announced today that he will retire from the National Hockey League. The long-time Detroit Red Wings defenseman concludes his 15-season NHL career as a 2008 Stanley Cup-champion and one of the most accomplished players in the 93-year history of the franchise, finishing third all-time in games played by a defenseman (and ninth overall) and fourth in points, trailing only Nicklas Lidstrom, Reed Larson and Red Kelly. Kronwall will remain with the Red Wings, joining the organization's front-office staff as advisor to the general manager.
Kronwall played all of his 953 NHL games with the Red Wings since debuting in 2003-04. Among franchise defensemen, he ranks as an all-time leader with 83 goals (4th), 349 assists (3rd), 432 points (4th), 34 power-play goals (4th), 109 power-play points (3rd), 14 game-winning goals (T3rd) and four overtime goals (T1st). He is also near the top of the franchise's ranks in postseason statistics by defensemen with 109 games (3rd), five goals (T10th), 42 assists (2nd), 47 points (3rd), a plus-25 rating (3th) and 25 power-play points (3rd). Since his first full NHL campaign (2006-07), Kronwall finished no lower than third in points by a Red Wings defenseman, and he led the team's blueliners in scoring on five occasions (2011-12 to 2014-15; 2018-19).
"I'd like to congratulate Niklas on a wonderful career and thank him for exemplifying what it means to be a Red Wing for the past 15 years," said Red Wings Governor, President and CEO Christopher Ilitch. "His impact on our organization has been immeasurable, from his stellar on-ice play which helped us win a Stanley Cup, to the legacy he built off the ice as someone who was always proud to give back to the Detroit community. It gives me great confidence in the future of the team knowing our young players have been able to learn from him, and I know that Niklas will find success in the next chapter of his career in our front office."
Selected by the Red Wings in the first round (29th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Kronwall remained in his native Sweden for three seasons following his draft year. He logged 45 points (12-33-45) in 166 total games with his Swedish club, Djurgardens IF, from 1999-03, which included league championships in 2000 and 2001. He crossed the pond in 2003-04, but saw two of his first three seasons in North America cut short by injury. Kronwall played just 45 games as a first-year pro, including 20 with the Red Wings, debuting on Dec. 10, 2003 at Buffalo and scoring his first NHL goal on Jan. 14, 2004 vs. Chicago. He spent the entirety of the 2004-05 season with the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins due to the NHL lockout, racking up 53 points (13-40-53) in 76 games en route to winning the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL's best defenseman - the first European-born player to capture that honor. His momentum into seizing a full-time NHL job in 2005-06 was halted by a preseason knee injury, though he returned in time to win a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Winter Olympics prior to skating in 27 regular-season games and six playoff games for Detroit.
Kronwall quickly made his reputation as a savvy two-way defenseman, posting 35-or-more points in six of his first nine full NHL seasons from 2006-07 to 2014-15 while establishing himself as one of the game's most feared and frequent open-ice hitters, despite a 6-foot, 194-pound frame. He was a pillar on Detroit's blueline as the team captured the 2008 Stanley Cup championship, most frequently paired with Brad Stuart to form a formidable top-four defensive corps, along with Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Kronwall produced 35 points (7-28-35) in 65 regular-season games and led all defensemen in playoff scoring with 15 points (0-15-15), en route to the 11th championship in franchise history. Detroit fell just short of repeating as Stanley Cup champions in 2008-09, as Kronwall produced a career-high 51 regular-season points (6-45-51) in 80 games and nine points (2-7-9) in 23 playoff games.
"I had the pleasure of playing with Niklas early in his career, and it was evident from his first season what a special player and person he would become," said Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman. "He was among the NHL's best two-way defensemen of his era and will go down as one of the greatest at his position in Red Wings history. Niklas has a sharp hockey mind and is highly respected in the hockey world. He has the makeup and work ethic of someone who will have a very successful career in management, and I am thrilled that he will remain with the franchise on the hockey operations staff."
A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Kronwall joined the exclusive Triple Gold Club in 2008, with a Stanley Cup championship to go along with gold medals at the Olympics and IIHF World Championship in 2006. Kronwall represented Sweden three times at the Olympics (2006, 2010, 2014) and picked up a silver medal in 2014, and also participated in the World Championship on five occasions (2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2012). In 42 games of combined international play, Kronwall registered 21 points (6-15-21), a plus-18 rating and 42 penalty minutes. Among Swedish-born NHL defensemen, Kronwall ranks sixth all-time in games played, assists and points.
Kronwall produced back-to-back seasons of double-digit goals in 2010-11 and 2011-12, setting a career best with 15 goals among his 36 points, which made him one of three defensemen (along with Nicklas Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider) to score 15-or-more goals in a single season for the Red Wings since 1985-86. He was named an alternate captain for the Red Wings prior to the 2011-12 season, which marked the first of back-to-back seasons in which he skated in every game. Kronwall also tied for the team scoring lead in the 2013-14 campaign for the first time, matching Daniel Alfredsson for the team lead with 49 points (8-41-49) in 79 games, which marked the second-highest point total of his career. He also appeared in the postseason for nine-consecutive years from 2007-08 to 2015-16, part of Detroit's streak of 25-straight years of qualifying for the playoffs, the third-longest such streak in NHL history. Despite battling chronic knee issues, Kronwall proved to be one of the most durable Red Wings over his final two NHL seasons, missing a combined six games over that span and leading Detroit with 79 games played in 2018-19.
Niklas Kronwall, Defenseman
Born Jan 12 1981 -- Stockholm, Sweden
Height 6.00 -- Weight 194 -- Shoots L
Selected by Detroit Red Wings round 1 #29 overall 2000 NHL Entry Draft