Nicklas Lidstrom is back with the Detroit Red Wings, having been hired by GM Steve Yzerman as Vice President of Hockey Operations. He will be involved in all aspects of hockey operations for the team with whom he won the Stanley Cup four times during his Hall of Fame career.
Yzerman announced the hire earlier today, and explained during his media session that it was certainly an easy hire to make. And for Lidstrom, it was an easy job to accept.
“I think we all want to see the team and organization make progress and become better and start making the playoffs again, that's the goal for everyone,” Lidstrom explained after the hiring was made official. “If I can be a small piece of helping out in different areas, whether in amateur scouting or watching prospects we have in Europe and the US and Canada as well, to help out and chip in.”
“I think just getting involved again, being here in Sweden and I'll be watching the European prospects who closer than the North American ones. I'm looking forward to seeing the development of players we drafted who are playing in the SEL, seeing them make progress. At the same time, we want to see the Red Wings make progress as well.”
Of course, the Red Wings have seen the fruits of Yzerman's drafting already paying off major dividends, as the likes of Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond are each making their case for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. Meanwhile, the team has another prospect who will soon be ready to make the leap to the NHL in Swedish defenseman Simon Edvinsson. For Lidstrom, he certainly understands the importance of the draft.
“Drafting is important, looking how hard it is to sign free-agents, with the salary cap, finding and developing players is key,” Lidstrom said. “Looking at the team we have on the ice right now, we have two young players stepping in and making contributions right away. Hopefully you've found the odd player ready to step in right away, but development is so key to success.”
Lidstrom won four Stanley Cup championships, seven James Norris Memorial Trophies (awarded to the NHL's top defenceman), one Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, and was voted into 12 NHL All-Star Games. The Red Wings never missed the postseason during his career, the longest in league history for a player never missing the playoffs.
Lidstrom was the first European-born-and-trained captain of a Stanley Cup winning team, as well as the first European player named playoff MVP. Lidstrom is also the all-time leader in games played with only one NHL team and by a European-born player. Lidstrom was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on 9 November 2015. In 2017, he was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.