Nicklas Lidstrom once again finds himself facing a decision about his NHL future, after his Detroit Red Wings were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators.
Lidstrom said Friday night that he’ll step back and take some time before deciding if he’ll return for another season, as has been his custom in recent years while playing on one-year contracts.
“I’m going to take a few weeks here,” Lidstrom said. “I’m sure (Red Wings general manager) Kenny (Holland) wants to sit down and go over things as well. I’ll see what he wants to do and what timetable he’ll give me to make a decision.”
Asked if he was leaning one way or the other, Lidstrom answered, “Not right now. Right now, it’s just the disappointment of losing in the playoffs.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said Thursday that he “would be shocked” if Lidstrom retired but added that he’s “been shocked before.” He reiterated his belief that Lidstrom would give it one more go following Game 5:
“I’ve already said that,” Babcock said, “but Nick’s going to take some time and talk to his family.”
Fox Sports Detroit TV analyst and former Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy put the odds on a Lidstrom return at 50-50, saying that he felt much less sure about the captain’s future than he did at this point last year.
The Red Wings already face possible changes in their defensive corps, with unrestricted free agent Brad Stuart likely to look for a deal closer to his family out west, while youngster Brendan Smith should have a spot in the top seven reserved for him. Detroit also must re-sign restricted free agent Kyle Quincey — assuming that’s the plan — and make a call on Jakub Kindl, who struggled mightily down the stretch.
The biggest piece to the puzzle, though, is Lidstrom, Detroit’s captain and a stalwart on the blue line for the past 20 years. Wings fans everywhere have to hope that Friday night was not his final game.