The first guy I want to talk about is Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings blogs, Twitter feeds, forums, news outlets, and every other related communications channel has one big question…
Is Nick retiring?
Well, your guess is as good as mine. Babcock and Datsyuk seem to have a strong feeling that he’ll be back next year, but Lidstrom’s son was recently accepted into a premiere hockey school in Sweden and as a father I am sure he wants to be there.
As far as the belief that he wants to achieve more I think is bullshit. The man has won 4 Stanley Cups, 6 Norris Trophies, and an Olympic gold medal. I don’t think he has anything else to prove nor do I think getting one more Stanley Cup will make his career complete. If he comes back it’s going to be for 2 things…money and the love of the game.
He is an unrestricted free agent. If Detroit didn’t offer him enough money he could freely go to another team, but I definitely don’t see that happening. Guys like Hossa that want to win the cup do shady things like that…Lidstrom isn’t chasing a dream, he already has attained it, so if he doesn’t return then we’ll see #5 hanging from the rafters in the fall.
He made $7.45 million last year and was the second highest paid player on the team behind Zetterberg. I think he has a few more good years of hockey left in him, but I don’t want to see him resigned with a salary anywhere near that high. He is a premiere defenseman and is someone the Red Wings have heavily relied on to win the Stanley Cup and because of this he is virtually irreplaceable. He is also 40 years old so he isn’t the same guy he was 5 years ago. Make no mistake, I still want him on the blue line, I just want him to take a pay cut.
Ken Holland needs to position the Red Wings to be competitive now and more importantly after Lidstrom retires so I would like to see him resigned for at least a 2 year contract at no more than $3.5 million per year. A move like this would give Holland more wiggle room in the salary cap to go out and acquire another solid defenseman or two. I’ll talk about who are potential candidates in a later post.
A 50% pay cut may sound ridiculous, but lets look at Yzerman as a model. He was a beloved Red Wing, played his entire career in Detroit, was a great leader and captain, and in his final years he took significant pay cuts to put the team in a position to win for many years to come. Yzerman retired in 2006 and the Red Wings won the cup 2 years later.
Compare that to Lidstrom. He is a beloved Red Wing, played his entire career in Detroit, is a great leader and captain, and I think in his final years he should position the team to be a very strong competitor in the future.