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Red Wings raise Nicklas Lidstrom’s No. 5 to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena

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By Darian Somers

Nicklas Lidstrom wanted No. 9 when he arrived in Detroit. That number belonged to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena with the name Howe above it, so the Red Wings’ equipment manager handed him the No. 5 instead.

Now, some 20-plus years later, the No. 5 and the name Lidstrom hangs right next to Howe’s.

Lidstrom, the former captain of the Red Wings, had his No. 5 retired Thursday evening before Detroit’s game with Colorado.

“This is something different,” Lidstrom said of the honor in comparison to his other accolades.  “This is all about being a Detroit Red Wing.”
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  • Published On Mar 06, 2014
  • NHL season will be worth the wait

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    Flyers fans

    Hockey starved Flyers fans get to open the season by welcoming the hated Penguins. (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Yeah, I heard you last September. “Wake me up when the lockout’s over,” you said.

    No one’s blaming you for nodding off while the finger-pointing, name calling, line-in-the-sand-drawing lawyers cost us nearly four months of NHL hockey. In fact, I got a little blurry myself listening to all that talk about  cap escalators and salary variance and rose ceremonies, but here I am with that call you’ve been waiting for. Time to rub the sleep out of your eyes, pull the team sweater out of mothballs, settle into that lucky couch groove and pop the top on your favorite frosty beverage. (And while you’re waiting for the first puck ro drop, some suggested reading..)

    The abbreviated 2013 NHL season finally begins Saturday afternoon. And it’s gonna be a good one. (Kings raise banner in style.)

    Make that really good. The 48-games-in-99-days, intra-conference schedule isn’t just “better than nothing.” This impossibly compressed timeline actually magnifies the importance of every moment, every slump, every streak, every injury. With so much on the line and no margin for error, it even makes an Islanders game worth watching. On a Tuesday. In February.

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  • Published On Jan 18, 2013
  • Red Wings facing a new world

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    After losing out to the Wild in the free agent sweepstakes, the aging Red Wings may be forced to fill holes by relying on younger players, such as blueliner Brendan Smith, next season. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    When free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter surprisingly signed with Minnesota last week, Al Muir wrote on SI.com how the two stars suddenly made the Wild relevant. I noted the ramifications for their former clubs, the Devils and Predators respectively. But the duo’s decision had a huge impact on another franchise:  the Detroit Red Wings.

    Of the teams in the hunt for the two premier free agents, the Wings were considered their most likely destination and may have been most adversely affected by failing to land even one. The Flyers, Penguins and Blackhawks were in the running, but they all still have good young cores of talent, including some of the NHL’s top superstars. You can’t say that about the Red Wings’ roster now, as talented as it may be. With the exception of goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Valtteri Filppula, Detroit’s best players are all over 30 years old and the team lost its top defenseman, future Hall of Famer Nick Lidstrom, to retirement. Injecting a pair of elite 27-year-olds like Parise and Suter into the lineup would have mattered greatly.

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  • Published On Jul 09, 2012
  • Will Therrien’s second time be a charm?

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    If Michel Therrien does not adapt to the current NHL game, his next stint in Montreal will end as unhappily as his first one did. (Photo by Paul Chiasson/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s unusual when big hockey news intrudes on the Stanley Cup Final, but fittingly in this unusual playoff year, there’s already been a lot: the announcement that the NHL and NHLPA will start CBA negotiations shortly, Nick Lidstrom retiring, Tim Thomas saying he’ll sit out next season, the Flames hiring Bob Hartley as coach, Marian Gaborik’s surgery and the Penguins acquiring Tomas Vokoun.

    Now there’s another story, and it’s a curious one — the Canadiens hiring Michel Therrien as their coach, a move that returns him to the Habs’ bench for the second time.

    The curiosity stems in part from Therrien’s penchant for installing a passive defensive system on the teams he coaches. Both the Canadiens players and their fans groused at Jacques Martin’s passive approach to the game and it’s pretty obvious that when teams wait for the opposition to make errors and then counterpunch, they don’t have much success in the NHL anymore. The Kings and Devils reached the Cup final because they abandoned that style of hockey. The Bruins and Canucks, last year’s finalists, did as well.

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  • Published On Jun 05, 2012
  • Was Lidstrom the MVP of his era?

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    By Stu Hackel

    Of the many things that Nick Lidstrom said Thursday morning while announcing the end of his remarkable playing career (video), it was perhaps the last one in his prepared remarks that spoke the loudest: “Retiring today,” he said, “allows me to walk away from the game with pride rather than have the game walk away from me.”

    This is a player who for much of last season was considered the best defenseman in the NHL, and if he returned next season, he’d still be one of the best players. But after being slowed by injuries and unable to raise his level of play in this year’s postseason, Lidstrom has his own standard of excellence to uphold. He knows he’s lost the inner drive to train as hard as he must this offseason in order to bounce back and reach that level of greatness again. He won’t cheat himself, he won’t cheat his teammates and he won’t cheat the fans if he can’t play with the same determined excellence that made him, without question, the best defenseman of his era.

    That’s not just me making that evaluation of Lidstrom’s talent and legacy, that’s the opinion of Scotty Bowman.

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  • Published On May 31, 2012
  • Can Erik Karlsson win the Norris?

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    Only 21, Erik Karlsson has blossomed into the NHL’s best offensive defenseman. (JC Salas/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s a bit too early to say whether Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson will be one of the NHL’s three Stars of the Week next Monday — and because it will be trade deadline day, who is even going to notice? — but he’s got a great head start with seven points in his last six periods of play.  With his goal and two assists in Ottawa’s 5-2 win over Washington on Wednesday night, Karlsson leads all NHL defenseman in scoring with 60 points — 20 more than his closest pursuer, Florida’s Brian Campbell.

    Karlsson’s 47th assist on Wednesday set a new Sens franchise record, breaking Norm Maciver’s mark of 46 set during the team’s inaugural campaign of 1992-93. He’s now only three points shy of Maciver’s team mark of 63 points by a d-man in a season.

    Playing in a small market is part of the reason Karlsson hasn’t gotten the acclaim he should. It doesn’t help matters when NBC’s Mike Milbury touts him for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, as Milbury did last night, either not realizing that Karlsson has already played two full seasons or perhaps confusing him with Devils rookie Adam Larsson.

    Karlsson is just 21, and obviously doesn’t have the name recognition nor resume of Shea Weber, Nick Lidstrom or Zdeno Chara. But he has zoomed to the top ranks of blueliners this season. Last season (yes, Karlsson indeed played last season), he was a minus-30 on a poor, directionless team. Today, he’s plus-15 on an excellently coached club that is one of the NHL’s surprises — and he’s a big reason why they are.

    So the inescapable question is, should Karlsson be the favorite for the Norris Trophy as top NHL defenseman?

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  • Published On Feb 23, 2012
  • Red Wings continue to defy time

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    As Detroit’s cornerstone stars age and near retirement, the emergence of young All-Star goaltender Jimmy Howard bodes well, but the Red Wings will need more players like him to continue their run of success. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    When the Red Wings take on the Canucks tonight in Vancouver, the spotlight will first shine on Gordie Howe, the greatest Red Wing of all — and, some believe, the game’s greatest player ever — who will be there to promote a local tournament that will raise funds to combat Alzheimer’s disease. Howe has some cognitive issues of his own.

    And then the light will shine on this game, as Detroit tries to pull away from the Canucks and the Western Conference pack. The Red Wings are three points ahead of Vancouver atop the pile, and it’s been quite a climb since an early season slump left Detroit at 5-5-1. Since then, the Wings have gone 29-11, and any team that isn’t the late 1970′s Montreal Canadiens has to be happy with that pace.

    UPDATE: Detroit defeated Vancouver 4-3 in a shootout, a game in which Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said “We got taken to school” by the Wings. “It was obvious to anybody they were playing the right way and we weren’t and that’s why they totally dominated us. We can play a lot better. Tonight the best team on the ice was Detroit. The positive is we got great goaltending and found a way to get a point.”

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  • Published On Feb 02, 2012
  • Ovechkin dims his own star

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    The NHL All-Star Game was once a stage for Alexander Ovechkin’s fun-loving persona and electric skills. (Lou Capozzola/SI; Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Fans of the Detroit Red Wings may be a bit puzzled today by NHL justice. Three years ago, Wings stars Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were suspended by the NHL for one game when they declined to take part in the All-Star festivities in Montreal. But yesterday, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin declined to take part in the upcoming All-Star festivities in Ottawa and he’s not going to be punished.

    Well, actually, Ovie’s already suspended (more on that below), but not for the All-Star Game. He still could have gone to Ottawa and participated, but he elected not to. Yet, he’ll face no discipline. And the reason seems to be, well, that things have changed with regard to the All-Star Game.

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  • Published On Jan 25, 2012
  • What’s wrong with the Red Wings?

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    Detroit’s mysterious misery mix may include the Red Wings’ players still learning to work with coach Mike Babcock’s new assistants Bill Peters (left) and Jeff Blashill (right). (Photo by Ron Chenoy/US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    They’ve been the NHL’s most consistent winner, a pillar of stability since the early 1990s. But the granite that makes up Hockeytown’s team is showing some cracks.

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  • Published On Nov 03, 2011
  • Red Wings-Capitals a great showdown

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    Alex Ovechkin, taking off after a slow start, leads his unbeaten Caps against Detroit’s stout defense. (AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    They won’t be looking ahead of themselves, because the undefeated Red Wings must first host the Blue Jackets on Friday night, but we can look ahead for them because Detroit’s next foe comes on Saturday night when they visit Washington for a date against the unbeaten Capitals at 7 p.m. Eastern time (and televised on the NHL Network in the U.S.).

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  • Published On Oct 21, 2011


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