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Nick Lidstrom Retires

In a very emotional press conference yesterday, Nick Lidstrom announced his retirement from the NHL after 21 seasons. Drafted 53rd overall in 1989, Lidstrom has become one of the most talented and successful defencemen ever to play the game. If there is a prize to be won in hockey, odds are Lidstrom has it and all the while he has remained humble and respectful. A true captain and leader, Lidstrom has become the benchmark that most young defencemen strive to model. This article will be my reminiscing of Lidstrom and a reflection on how he changed the game of hockey.

Having always grown up less than an hour from Detroit, I quickly became a Red Wings fan. And of course the excitement of watching Fedorov, Yzerman and Datsyuk was fun, but watching Lidstrom play was so much more. He was never out of position and always cut his opponents lanes off with such ease and simplicity. Seeing him wind up for a big slap shot, his eyes picking the target, is an amazing sight. His talent and skill made the game look easy and made the other players look like minor leaguers in comparison. When ever a young star player would try to flip the puck past him on a dump in, Lidstrom would simply knock it down and clear the zone. Its moments like these that defined Lidstrom's style of play and always was entertaining to watch.  

Lidstrom has always kept the Wings together, playing as a team and dominating the league every year. In every season Lidstrom played, 21 total, the team made the playoffs every year. That is unheard of in any sport and is another way Lidstrom excelled. With seven Norris Trophy wins, tied for second behind Bobby Orr, the league also recognized Lidstrom's amazing efforts, even if he quietly hung around behind the scenes. Besides the Norris, Lidstrom is retiring with four Stanley cup rings, a world championship and an Olynpic gold medal, as well as a Conn Smythe trophy and 12 All-Star Game appearances, proof that he had a huge impact on the game of hockey.

So why did Lidstrom retire at all? He has been so successful and so dominant in the NHL, who would want to walk away from that? In his press conference yesterday, Lidstrom said he simply "lacked the motivation" to compete in the NHL any more. After being so successful and earning an estimated $99.93 million in salary, it would be hard to still be motivated. Lidstrom also said in his press conference that he wants to be more of a family man and that he owes it to his wife to help raise the kids more. What an amazing thing to say. After such an amazing career, Lidstrom still reminded us he is a human being with a family and young kids who need nurturing. To me that is what separates professional athletes from regular athletes. Anyone who remains humble while everyone in the room gushes over their statistics rises above everyone else and has earned the right to retire. Lidstrom is a class act and his career and life will be forever immortalized in lists of the greatest NHL defencemen of all time. With such success, I fully respect his decision to retire and am grateful for all the memories he brought us as Red Wing fans.

Josh Beneteau is a young writer who will be attending the Ryerson School of Journalism in the fall. You can follow him on twitter at @jbenny15 and read more from him on his website at www.jbenny.com. 

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