Detroit Red Wings: The Ageless Nick Lidstrom

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIINovember 17, 2011

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 03:  Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena on November 3, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Calgary won the game 4-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Nick Lidstrom is one the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of skates.  His stats rank among the best defensemen of all-time.

  • Seven-time Norris Trophy winner and a 12-time finalist.
  • Four Stanley Cups.
  • 11 All-Star games.
  • Conn Smythe Trophy.
  • 11th all-time in plus/minus.

Lidstrom’s greatness goes far beyond playing great for a couple of seasons or even a decade.   He has put together a string of 20 amazing seasons.  There are very few players who have been able maintain such a high level of play for as long as he has.

Most would have expected Lidstrom to drop off over these few years but he hasn’t.  Last season, he became the oldest defensemen to score a hat trick.  That hat trick was the first of his career.  Perhaps the most surprising part of his career is that he has not lost his touch.

In last year’s playoffs, he had 10 points in 12 games.  That run has carried over into this season as he has been battling for the lead among defensemen in goals scored and has 12 points in 16 games.  He already has six goals on the season. 

While it is a bit early, he has on pace to obliterate his career-high of 20 goals in a season.  Would anyone expect a 40-year-old defensemen to score 30 goals?  Lidstrom is on pace to accomplish that.

He has never been the biggest, strongest or fastest player on the ice.  He uses an uncanny ability to see the entire ice combined with such a remarkable hockey sense.  In fact, he may be the smartest hockey player ever. 

His moves on the ice seem so effortless yet so right.  He seems to know what an opponent is going to do even before they do.

At his age, you would expect him to need more rest.  That isn’t the case either as his durability is astounding.  He has not missed a game in over two years. 

The most games that he has ever missed in a full season are six.  Over the past six seasons, he has averaged over 80 starts a year.  He is not just riding the bench during the games either. 

He has spent the last 14 seasons in the top 20 for minutes played and only slipped out of the top 10 once since 1997.  So far this year he is over 35 seconds a game ahead of last year’s pace.

This is a man who is not slowing down.   As he approached 40 and has now gone beyond, every offseason is filled with fear and dread by the Red Wing faithful, wondering if Lidstrom will retire. 

At this point there is no need to look season to season anymore.  With him playing the way he is, there is no need to add the "playing great for a 41-year-old" proviso. 

No, Lidstrom’s skill and play is ageless and has no limits.  He is still playing great.  There are many around the league that wishes that they could be so lucky as to play like a 41-year-old, or at least one particular 41-year-old.