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Wings' Lidstrom nears milestone

by Eric Goodman / Detroit Red Wings
DETROITNicklas Lidstrom’s list of career accomplishments read like the resume of someone that is a sure-fire lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame. His collection of NHL awards, Stanley Cup rings and international gold medals are enough to fill up a super-sized trophy case, but, like with all hockey superstars, there is always room for more.

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That next milestone for the Red Wings’ defenseman is well within reach as the Swedish-born veteran needs just two points to reach the prestigious 1,000 point plateau. On the list of all-time NHL defensive scorers, Lidstrom is currently eighth, joining the exclusive company of Ray Bourque (1,579), Paul Coffey (1,531), Al MacInnis (1,274), Phil Housley (1,232), Larry Murphy (1,216), Denis Potvin (1,052) and Brian Leetch (1,028).

“When I first started in the league, it was something I never thought would happen,” said Lidstrom, who was held pointless in the Wings’ two losses in Sweden. “First of all, I didn’t think I was going to reach 1,000 games, let alone, reaching 1,000 points. So that’s something that I’m very proud of to be closing in on.”

Lidstrom is already the Wings’ all-time leading defensive scorer with 998 points and ranks fourth among all Wings’ scorers during his 18-year NHL career in Detroit. Additionally, Lidstrom’s 80 points in 2005-06 still stands as the single-season record for most points by a Detroit defenseman.

“He’s the greatest that I’ve ever played against … and with,” Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi said. “I was in during an era where there were some pretty darn good defensemen, Scott Niedermayer, Al MacInnis and all that. Just playing against him year after year after year and being fortunate to be on the same side as him you can appreciate the kind of talent that he has. Just his character and his demeanor, and what he brings to the game and to the city of Detroit.”

As far as the hardware goes, Lidstrom has grabbed more than his share. In addition to being the first European-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy when he helped the Wings to their third Stanley Cup in six seasons in 2001-02, Lidstrom won another Stanley Cup in 2007-08 and has a total of six Norris Trophies as the League’s best defenseman and two international gold medals, including winning the 2006 Olympics with Sweden.

“He’s exactly the same off the ice as he is on the ice,” Bertuzzi said. “He’s quiet, gets the job done and by the end of the night he’s got three points, is a plus-three and he doesn’t say anything after the game. It’s just another game to him. He comes prepared each and every day, and to him that’s why he’s been successful and this team has been successful.”

As for younger players, like 25-year-old defenseman Jonathan Ericsson – who’s stall is next to Lidstrom’s in the Wings’ locker room -- the team’s captain is more than a teammate.

“For me, he’s been very helpful in my three years here,” Ericsson said. “Through training camp and everything like that, he’s just a good example for everything on and off the ice. To see how many points that he puts up every year is pretty impressive, but for me it’s about positioning on each play. Everything that he does out there is what I’m trying to learn.” Managing Editor Bill Roose contributed to this story.

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