1. Nicklas Lidstrom
This list was never fair from the very beginning. How could anyone compete with the “perfect human?” Putting his name in the history books as the first European-born captain of an NHL franchise to hoist the Stanley Cup, Nick Lidstrom made a habit of always making the right play, whether it was in the defensive, offensive, or neutral zone.
Teammate and fellow Swede Niklas Kronwall said it best in the article linked above, “We call him the perfect human. And there’s a reason for that. Whatever he does, he seems to do it perfectly.” Constantly being played against the opposing team’s top line with the objective of shutting them down was never too much for him to handle.
Lidstrom won a total of four Stanley Cups and seven Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenseman. He is widely considered one of the best players ever to play the game and has his name brought up in the same breath as Bobby Orr. In his entire playing career, the Detroit Red Wings never missed the playoffs.
His leadership was held up more by his fantastic play on the ice and less by talking in the locker room. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer with all of the credentials under his belt. Lidstrom became held to such a high standard that even one of his coaches, Mike Babcock, declared that it was more accurate to describe Lidstrom as the coach and himself as the learner.
A true hockey legend. A great leader. One of the best captains to ever play the game. As we round out the rankings, we tip the cap to Lidstrom as the no. 1 captain over the last 40 years of Detroit Red Wings history.