Will Nicklas Lidstrom return to Wings?
By Helene St. James
SAN JOSE, Calif._Henrik Zetterberg said he and his teammates would resort to praying if necessary that's how determined they are to have Nicklas Lidstrom keep playing with them. Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Sharks at HP Pavilion was Lidstrom's 247th career playoff game, tying him with Patrick Roy for second-most in NHL history, trailing only former teammate Chris Chelios' 266.
Was it Lidstrom's last game? His contract is expiring, and unlike in previous years, Lidstrom hasn't wanted to negotiate an extension during the season.
Following the loss, in which he played 27:42 and had four shots, Lidstrom held the line he's had all season, which is that he wants to take time now to decide what to do next, and talk it over with general manager Ken Holland.
"I'm still fresh coming off this loss, so I haven't thought about it yet," Lidstrom said. "I'm sure I'll sit down with Kenny here in the next few weeks and just go over things. So nothing is set yet."
Lidstrom just turned 40, but he's never suffered from the sort of lingering injuries that helped force Steve Yzerman's decision to retire after the 2005-06 season. And for those who think Lidstrom has lost a step, it speaks volumes that in a poll of 272 NHL players conducted by Sports Illustrated late this season, 25 percent chose Lidstrom as the NHL's best shut-down defenseman.
Other than simply not wanting to push himself through any more seasons, there's no reason Lidstrom can't continue playing. And that's the option his teammates hope he'll pick.
As he left HP Pavilion, Johan Franzen said, "I'm going to work him tonight, talk some sense into him."
Zetterberg is equally eager to sway his countryman and captain.
"We will try to convince him to stay," he said. "But it's up to him and his family and he'll make that decision. Nothing more for us than to pray and wait and see."
Asked if it wasn't unusual for Swedes, not exactly known as the world's most religious people, to pray, Zetterberg smiled.
"For this one," he said, "we do."