TORONTO – As the Red Wings prepared for their Atlantic Division rivals tonight, it was hard for some of the players to avoid questions about the pre-game ceremony that will take place at center ice at Air Canada Centre.
Prior to the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Hockey Hall of Fame will introduce the seven members of this year’s induction class, which includes Red Wings greats Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov.
While the only Red Wings that played with Fedorov were Pavel Datsyuk and Mike Green (during their days in Washington), many current Wings have fond memories of their time with Lidstrom.
“I have lots of memories of the Red Wings, even when I was kid watching them on TV,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “Then meeting (Lidstrom) in training camps, sitting next to him in the locker room, playing with him on the ice, I have a lot of memories of him through different aspects of my life, so it’s going to be special for me tonight.”
The others inductees that will be introduced tonight are Chris Pronger, Phil Housley, Angela Ruggiero, Bill Hay, and Peter Karmonos Jr. The inductees will be formally enshrined during a special ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday evening.
Accompanied by this father and three sons, Lidstrom watched the Red Wings’ morning skate Friday. He met up with former teammates at the hotel Thursday night and again in the Wings’ dressing room Friday morning.
As Lidstrom’s last defensive partner in Detroit, Niklas Kronwall said the Super Swede often flew under the radar during his career.
So what are Kronwall’s thoughts on his former partner’s career?
“It’s hard really to put into words,” Kronwall said. “I’ve been asked that question quite a few times now. What he’s done for not only the Red Wings but the game of hockey it’s pretty incredible, how good he was for so long. We were spoiled, we kind of took it for granted. Unfortunately he had to retire way too early for our liking but I’m just very honored to have gotten the chance to have played with him.”
Lidstrom made everything from breakout passes to puck retrievals seem so easy on the ice. And he never really absorbed a punishing check because he never put himself in that position, Ericsson said.
“On the ice never really looked that fancy,” he said. “He just always did a very good job all the way through and those simple passes looked so easy, creating so much time for forwards and all that, his positioning play was really good as well. Everything he did didn’t look too fancy, but he did it right all of the time.”
Asked how he thought the humble Lidstrom – who won the Norris Trophy seven times during his illustrious career – will handle the honor this weekend, Kronwall said, “I really don’t know, to be honest, everything just comes so easy to him. He seems very composed, just like it’s another weekend, almost.”
Landon Ferraro never had the opportunity to skate a regular-season shift with Lidstrom, but the rookie forward is delighted to have the chance to witness tonight’s pre-game ceremony.
“It would be cool to be here for whoever was going in, but the fact that it’s those two and the history that they’ve had with the organization,” Ferraro said. “I remember my very first camp in Traverse City and Nick was on my team. I was nervous as heck and I fired a pass up to him during one of the scrimmages and it was about four feet high, and he just knocked it down no problem, brought it to the middle and took a shot. I thought ‘Alright, to see this first hand, this guy is pretty good.’ To have their night here is special for the organization as much as it is for them.”