Put Your Tears Away

Apparently, it’s sad that Nicklas Lidstrom is retiring.

Sorry if you don’t see me balling my eyes out.

Lidstrom will go down as one of the greatest defenseman to ever play the game and rightfully so. He played 20 seasons , won 7 Norris Trophies, 4 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe and, for whatever it’s worth, has been voted to 12 all-star games. You don’t get named by The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated as the “NHL Player of the Decade” for nothing.

These aren’t gloomy days though. I mean, this isn’t Brett Favre retiring for the 1st time.

Fans love to buy into the narrative of the man commonly referred to as “Mr. Perfect.” That narrative is by no means wrong. However, this thought of a player who epitomizes what it means to be the captain and leader of a franchise seems to entice people more than the actual player himself. It’s almost as if loving Nicklas Lidstrom is proving yourself to be a true fan of the game because he is everything that a player is supposed to be.

If I were that Condescending Wonka on Twitter, I might tweet something along the lines of ‘Oh, you’re depressed because Nickas Lidstrom retired? You must be real hockey fan.’

Nicklas Lidstrom was a great player but, unless I’m a Detroit Red Wings fan, I could care less about his departure from the game of hockey.

The reason Nick Lidstrom is great is because you don’t notice him. He plays the way you would expect the best Swedish defenseman to. Nicklas Lidstrom doesn’t make mistakes. Nicklas Lidstrom just gets the job done. He is classic substance over style.

No one goes to see games because of Nicklas Lidstrom.

He plays the game the right way but it is not anything that we’re going to miss. What, you’re going to miss his unwavering emotionless expression? His outlet passes? His subtle decision-making? His politeness with the media?

There’s no doubt that you have to appreciate how well Lidstrom played the game. Hockey isn’t supposed to be as easy he made it look. Appreciate and love is a whole different matter though.

Unlike the way I imagine Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Denis Potvin and Larry Robinson could, Nicklas Lidstrom rarely put anyone on the edge of their seat. There was no physical presence, no coast-to-coast rushes and certainly no smack talking.

Remind me again, what are we going to wish we had back without Nicklas Lidstrom next season?

Whenever the Detroit Red Wings come to town, fans will still be marking it down on their calendars. The reasons why you watch you the team from the Motor City haven’t left. Pavel Datysuk is worth the price of admission alone. Nicklas Lidstrom? You might even forget that number 5 hasn’t stepped foot on the ice.

Coaches love class over flash but Nick Lidstrom is somewhat of an embodiment of what plagues the National Hockey League. The NHL struggles for ratings because of its severe lack of star power. The league won’t be hurt in the slightest bit without Lidstrom suiting up for 82 games.

The media generated hype surrounding Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement gives people this idea that they loved Nicklas Lidstrom. In reality, Nicklas Lidstrom is about as lovable as a slice of plain white bread.

Of course the “Perfect Human” didn’t shed a tear over his retirement.

Neither should you.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also E-mail Chris at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

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About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

9 Responses to Put Your Tears Away

  1. mlavens says:

    What makes me so sad about Nick leaving (other than being a huge Wings fan) is that he was the last player to retire from the team I grew up with. I’ve been attending the games during his entire career. It’s silly to say, but with him leaving it makes me feel like I’m grown up now. After all, I’m not a child anymore, but watching him play every year still gave me that child-lke feeling.

    Obviously, I’m not going to be torn up about it and I will still be at Hockeytown as much as possible and I’m sure it will be weird the first couple of games because he won’t be on the ice.

  2. Tom Mitsos says:

    Chris,

    First of all, thank you for the comments on my blog.

    I want to say interesting viewpoint on yours. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything you said, it was an interesting angle to take.

    I do think more people are going to miss him than you think. Sure, many casual fans couldn’t care less, but I read comments on news stories about Blackhawks fans who said they would miss him. That’s a lot of respect from a rival team.

    He’s not a flashy superstar, but he’s a consummate pro who was one, if not the hardest, defenseman to play against. Hardcore fans know this and, while they will be happy their team won’t have to play against him, they are still sad to see him go. It’s the end of an era.

    I agree with you fans don’t pay to see Lidstrom break up 2-on-1 rushes or clear the puck from the front of the net, but they do go to see the Wings win and him on the ice gave the Wings the best chance to win.

    Interesting post. I look forward to reading more.

  3. Robert Stone says:

    It is going to be hard to watch Wings games without #5 on the ice, but downplaying his excitement he brings to the game is something that we have been dealing with in Detroit for a while. He is one player that I have compared to a guy like Tim Duncan of the Spurs, who has quietly become the best power forward maybe ever.

    If anyone is looking for a more Detroit flavored story on Lidstrom retiring check out http://detroitsportsbloggers.com/2012/05/31/lidstrom-could-be-best-ever/

  4. thegregger63 says:

    Kinda similar to what I wrote re: not being “pay to see” stuff that Lidstrom did on a nightly basis. And if you’re NOT a Red Wings fan, I can certainly see where the eyes would remain dry.

    Frankly, I think most (if not all) the sadness is from Red Wings fans, anyway. It’s never a “good” day when any sport’s great players retire, but life does go on!

  5. It’s true, he didn’t bedazzle fans by what he did on the ice. Usually when defensemen stand out, they’re making mistakes that draw attention. Lidstrom didn’t have a particularly heavy shot and he didn’t plaster guys into the boards very much. The sadness in his retirement comes from the fact that he did compile his accomplishments quietly. Even if you ask fans from rival teams, they’ll tell you he always wore the “white hat.” He was a good guy, even if you thought his team was the “enemy.”
    Good post my man.

  6. Good article Chris. Nice to see you’re still plugging away!

  7. Kristin says:

    I found this really interesting. Most people comment on how lovable the guy is but I do like how you disagreed and actually had the courage to come out and say it. I personally never liked the Red Wings but I do think he’s a legend and a future hall-of-famer for sure.
    Interesting but I liked it!

  8. Curtis Pulliam says:

    Thank you for commenting on my blog Chris. It truly means a lot. I disagree with you about Lidstrom being boring and loved by Detroit. All over twitter many players posted their farewells and said all good things. I feel like he was an example of all professional athletes should be. Consistent and just go to work like every one else does. He wasn’t a flashy superstar but his play and leadership was superstar like. Anyone looking for another piece please check out http://detroitsportsbloggers.com/2012/05/31/lidstrom-could-be-best-ever/ thank you. and keep in touch Chris.

  9. The only tears we’ll be seeing tonight will be coming out of South Beach… or will there be?

    If you’re in front of your laptop tonight and watching the game, brother, I’m hosting a chat at the Chump.

    Make yourself a drink and swing on by.

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