Lidstrom was great but for the old timers Gordie Howe will be the greatest Red Wing of all time and for just about everybody else their guy is Steve Yzerman who now runs the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lindstrom as many Red Wings fans called him retires as the Red Wings captain but he never was “The Captain.”
Yzerman is “The Captain.” He is the one who tugged at Red Wings heart strings. Lidstrom was never what Yzerman was, not that he was chasing that. He didn’t care. It never mattered to him. Lidstrom simply laced on the skates, did the best he could and let everybody else debate his rankings in this town. He never passed Yzerman. Nobody will.
Yzerman came in when the Wings were terrible. Do you remember The Dead Wings? How about Darkness with Harkness? They used to give away cars at Olympia to draw fans. That’s how bad it was around here. If anybody dared call this Hockeytown when Yzerman was drafted in fourth in the 1983 draft they would have been laughed at.
Only the diehards came to Red Wings games. Yzerman drew the casual fan and the ladies who loved his boyish face and exciting game. He captured this town like no others and will forever be on Detroit’s Mt. Rushmore of sports greats along with Joe Louis, Barry Sanders, Isiah Thomas and Ty Cobb. Hockey mattered again when Yzerman came here.
Lidstrom might surpass Yzerman in a world view. But not here in Detroit. He was always respected here but never loved like the Captain.
I will know Lidstrom as a great player and a kind and decent man. He was one of those players who gave his time and enjoyed what he did. It didn’t matter how we viewed him. He simply did his job better than 99 percent of hockey players and was a professional every step of the way.
Have you ever heard a scandal involving Lidstrom? Even a tiny one?
So Lidstrom never was the people’s champion. He simply goes out as a champion.