During the Detroit Red Wings’ most successful eras in the modern-day NHL, they’ve relied heavily on Swedish players.
And no one has been more important or influential than Nicklas Lidstrom.
The defenseman came to Detroit as a 22-year-old from Vasteras and retired as one of the greatest hockey players of all time.
Lidstrom won seven straight Norris Trophies, four Stanley Cups, and a Conn Smythe, and he’s a rare member of the Triple Gold Club, having won the Stanley Cup, the World Championship, and the Olympics. Lidstrom was also the first European to captain a Stanley Cup-winning team, and he was selected to 12 All-Star Games.
Lidstrom had 60 points in his first NHL season, but it wasn’t just his offensive game that made him so great.
Lidstrom was known as ‘the perfect human’ in Detroit because of how rare it was for him to have a bad game or make a mistake. Detroit has had many really great, talented Swedish players over the years, such as Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall, and Johan Franzen.
But no one could top Lidstrom when it came to popularity, both with the coaches and fans. And the other Swedish players knew it.
Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom weren’t just teammates but also close friends. One time, just hours before a game, they were involved in a minor car crash.
“We had stopped for coffee, just like we always did,” Lidstrom said in a Swedish podcast.
The crash wasn’t serious, and it just delayed the Swedish duo for some time.
“When we made a turn, we collided with another car. It wasn’t that dramatic, or a big crash. But we had to wait for the police, so we called down to the rink and explained what had happened, and that we would be running late.”
But when Lidstrom and Holmstrom finally arrived, ‘Homer’ made the perfect joke about the incident in front of the whole team.
“The first thing Tomas says when we get into the locker room, to the team and to coach Babcock, was, ‘Don’t worry, guys! I threw myself in front of him, he’s okay!’ He told everyone he saved me,” said Lidstrom, laughing.
What a perfect joke from a true legend!