When the undefeated Red Wings face off against the also-undefeated Washington Capitals tonight in D.C., Nicklas Lidstrom will be lacing up the skates for his 1,500th career game. It will mark just the 14th time an NHL player has played that many games and the first for a European-born player.â†µ
The 41-year-old Swede who is in his 20th NHL season joins Steve Yzerman (1,514) and Alex Delvecchio (1,549) as the only players to reach the milestone with the same NHL team, all three with the Red Wings, of course (Chris Chelios played in 1,651 career games, but many were with the Blackhawks). Assuming Lidstrom stays healthy, he should pass both former Wings' games played this season.â†µ
Head coach Mike Babcock was not at a loss for words when discussing Lidstrom's historical accomplishment:â†µ
"He’s a phenomenal player, he’s a generational-type player," Babcock said.â†µ
"Everyone's going to know who he was long after he's done playing. To me, Bobby Orr's probably going to get the most credit and lots of people who played with different people are going to say different things, but to me, the class of man he is, the kind of leader he is, how good he's been for how long, just how impressive he is and the amount of winning he's done, that counts for a lot as well. To me, he's very special to have had the opportunity to coach. He's a good guy for the coach because he gives you a lot of input and goes about it the right away. Great man."â†µ
Lidstrom has won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies, and has a street named after him in the Detroit suburbs -- I'd say that's a pretty academic career.