Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lidstrom's Skills Defied Explanation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lidstrom's Skills Defied Explanation

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- As No. 5 sailed up to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena Thursday night, a glorious past and a potentially gloomy present intersected. The Red Wings never missed the playoffs in defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's 20 years in Detroit, an accomplishment frequently mentioned at his emotionally stirring number-retirement ceremony.

"Boy, do I miss watching No. 5 play," general manager Ken Holland said.

He's not alone.

Might there be room for another retired number in the rafters in another month?

How about No. 22?

The Wings have the fifth-longest consecutive Stanley Cup playoff streak in NHL history with 22 consecutive appearances, a roll that started the season before Lidstrom's rookie year. But as Detroit officially and fondly said farewell and thanks to Lidstrom, it wasn't without a touch of melancholy that we're perhaps also saying good-bye to an amazing era of sustained excellence.

There was little reassurance watching a hobbled Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk honor their former teammate in street clothes. Injuries precipitated a desperate deadline deal. The Wings brought home David Legwand with the hope that the former No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 draft might stabilize a wobbly center position.

The Wings aren't asking for stardom. They're seeking only survival. Just stay alive long enough to snatch the last Eastern Conference playoff seed. With that would come an opportunity for a first-round upset similar to last spring when the seventh-seeded Red Wings stunned the Anaheim Ducks.

They blew a tremendous opportunity Thursday against Colorado, losing, 3-2, in overtime. A win would have put them in eighth place (the final playoff spot) after Washington and Columbus had lost earlier.

"You have to keep reinventing yourself," said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings who represented the family at the ceremony. …

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