On Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection

Four years after being released in Sweden, Nicklas Lidstrom‘s biography is getting a bit of a makeover and an English release. Originally titled Lidstrom: Captain Fantastic, the update carries the name Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection.

Disclaimer: Not being Swedish-speaking, I never read the original. As such, I can’t speak to how much the actual content changed between the Swedish and English releases. While the increased page count (roughly 200 in the original compared to 278 [plus some pages of photos] in the new edition) would imply significant new content, it could also be due to a formatting change or the addition of an appendix including Lidstrom’s stats and records. The new book’s final chapter does reference events that occurred after the original’s release, so at least some of the content is new.

I’ve stated in the past that I like biographies that give a different view to the stories we already know. In the Internet Age, with events reported on from seemingly every angle in real-time, that gets harder and harder to do. Lidstrom’s biography is no different on that front. This being a second release makes it even more difficult, as the chapter discussing his injury during the 2009 Western Conference Finals might have been shocking had it not been revealed four years ago.

What makes Lidstrom’s biography unique is what made Lidstrom himself unique: consistency. Every chapter carries the same thread forward, showing how Lidstrom worked like a machine at every level of his career.

A chapter about his youth playing days? Here’s a quote from a coach describing how he was different even then. His rookie year in the NHL? Here’s Brad McCrimmon saying virtually the same thing. His international career? Here’s Peter Forsberg. His NHL breakout? Wayne Gretzky. His ascension to the captaincy? Steve Yzerman. The end of his career? Drew Doughty.

At every level of his career it would appear that the biggest names on the stage recognized just how unique Lidstrom was. Reading those players gushing over Lidstrom is a big part of what makes this book fun.

My personal favorite story from the book would be the one that’s also the most painful to me as a fan, as Lidstrom describes how much it hurt to lose Game Seven of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. To see that it still haunts Lidstrom shows his humanity as a contrast to the machine-like performance he’s so famous for.

One final note: The book’s cover carries a bit of a lie.

I read that as “Nicklas Lidstrom with Gunnar Nordstrom and Bob Duff.” An autobiography with help from a couple professional writers. Which would be acceptable; I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if Lidstrom had narrated his story and allowed the writers to shape it as necessary.

The problem the book is in the third person. I don’t know how much was written by Nordstrom and how much came from Duff but – aside from the photo captions – it would appear none of it was written by Lidstrom himself. As such, it’s not so much “with” Nordstrom and Duff as it is “by” them. That might be a small thing but I do think it’s worth noting.

Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection is scheduled for release next week, on October 1, 2019.

Public Service Announcement: Red Wings’ Nameplates Haven’t Changed

With the Red Wings opening up their preseason exhibition schedule tonight, I figured it was time to make the annual public service announcement about their jerseys.

Mike Green wearing the Red Wings’ preseason nameplate (Credit: Clark Rasmussen)

Yes, they’re wearing straight nameplates on their jerseys, including a pretty standard block font.

No, it’s not a permanent change.

Detroit does this every preseason and seemingly every year it causes some to question what happened to the team’s traditional vertically-arched nameplates.

Sean Avery, Tomas Kopecky, and Chris Chelios wearing the Red Wings’ preseason jerseys in 2002 (Credit: Clark Rasmussen)

Maybe you like the romantic-sounding “the players have to earn the fancy nameplate” reason.  Maybe you accept that vertically-arched nameplates for a 60-man preseason roster would be a lot of effort for the Red Wings’ equipment staff.

Whatever reason you like, it’s not permanent.  They’ll be back to the normal lettering come Opening Night.

Twenty-three

Today marks the twenty-third anniversary of the founding of DetroitHockey.Net, originally known as YzerFan19’s Detroit Red Wings Home Page.

Obviously, things have changed a lot since then.

I wish I had some words of wisdom to share with regards to that.  Things that I’ve learned or poignant commentary.  I don’t know.  I guess the lesson of DetroitHockey.Net’s most recent year is don’t get into trademark disputes with Major League Baseball.

Absent such a maxim, I’m going to take a page from DH.N’s 17th anniversary post and talk about Red Wings who have worn #23.

Greg Johnson was wearing #23 when this site was founded.  Mike Ramsey wore it for his only two games of the 1996-97 season, after Johnson was traded to Pittsburgh for Tomas Sandstrom; with Tomas Holmstrom having been assigned the #15 Ramsey had worn with the Red Wings up to that point.

Stacy Roest had the number next, before being selected by the Minnesota Wild in the expansion draft and wearing #22 for them.  While Roest was with Minnesota, Todd Gill had his second stint with the Red Wings and took the number up after – like Ramsey – having previously worn #15 for Detroit.

Roest returned to the Red Wings for the 2002-03 season and, with Gill wrapping up his career in Chicago, retook #23.  That didn’t last long, though, as the Red Wings acquired Mathieu Schneider at that season’s trade deadline and gave him the number, with Roest switching to #39.

Another trade deadline acquisition was next to have #23, as Brad Stuart took it in 2008.  Upon his departure in 2012, it was quickly snatched up by Brian Lashoff, who had worked his way from #32 to #25 to #23 during training camps.

Lashoff eventually ceded #23 to Dominic Turgeon, switching back to #32.  Despite the switch, Turgeon actually debuted wearing #45 as the team was on the road when he was called up and his #23 jersey wasn’t available.  Turgeon also briefly lost the number to Scott Wilson but never had to pick another number as Wilson’s entire Detroit tenure coincided with Turgeon being in Grand Rapids.

Thoughts on the Captaincy

Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill announced today that the team would go a second consecutive season without naming a captain.

The move comes contrary to rumors that flew all summer about Detroit star Dylan Larkin being named as the successor to Henrik Zetterberg, whose playing career is over due to back issues but will remain under contract with the club for two more seasons.  While Larkin may indeed be the Red Wings next captain, that won’t happen this season.

While a new captain will not be named defensive specialist Luke Glendening was added to the rotation of alternate captains (alongside Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, and Frans Nielsen), giving the Red Wings four players wearing the A.

The captaincy is something that is very tradition-heavy in the NHL.  Steve Yzerman‘s retired jersey banner includes the C in recognition of his tenure as Detroit’s captain.  Joe Sakic’s does as well, as the Avalanche have never had an original thought.

It was a big deal when the Vancouver Canucks named goalie Roberto Luongo as their captain in 2008, skirting NHL rules to do so.  Similarly, it was something of a shock when, just five years ago, the San Jose Sharks stripped Joe Thornton of their captaincy.

Now, it seems that some of the gravitas behind the captaincy is gone.

Per the NHL rulebook, only players with letters are allowed to talk to the referees.  That rule is ignored on a nightly basis.  If any player can talk to the refs, there’s no in-game reason to designate one as captain.

The Red Wings showed how unnecessary on-ice captains are during the 2015-16 season.  For 34 games that year they dressed two or fewer captains due to injury, opting not to name replacements on a game-by-game basis, knowing there was no need to.  A season earlier they did that ten times, while also using four alternate-alternate captains.

Compare the current decade to the 1990s.

From 1990-91 to 1999-2000, there were six instances of a team going an entire season without a captain.  Three of those were the first seasons of the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning.

There will be as many cases of teams going captain-less this season, same as last season.  There will be 25 instances of teams not naming a captain between 2010-11 and 2019-20.  Three of those were the first seasons of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Teams are instead opting to name a “leadership group,” as the Golden Knights called it in 2017 and the Canucks did in 2018 and the Red Wings have seemingly done this year.

It may just be that the captaincy doesn’t carry the importance it used to.  If a letter isn’t required on the ice, and if leaders make themselves known in the dressing room regardless of whether or not they’re a captain, then why name one at all?

2019 Training Camp Jersey Number Notes

With the Red Wings having claimed the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup as champions of the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, the team is ready for their main training camp to begin, and with that comes the release of their training camp roster.

The roster includes 67 players.  Only two players who were on the Prospects Tournament roster will not be appearing in the main camp – Elmer Soderblom and Gustav Berglund.  No NHL free agents will be appearing with the Red Wings as pro try-outs.

There are no surprise jersey number changes revealed by the roster announcement.

Evgeni Svechnikov, who missed the entire 2018-19 season, will keep the #37 he was scheduled to wear last year.  He wore that number for his debut in 2016-17 before switching to #77 for the 2017-18 campaign.

Finnish free agent signing Oliwer Kaski claims that #77, after having worn #7 with Pelicans last season.  Kaski taking #77 would explain why Taro Hirose, who specifically was looking for a number with seven in it, took #67 instead of #77.

I had speculated that #26 might have gone to Thomas Vanek on a PTO but that ended up going to Grand Rapids Griffins’ captain Matt Ford, who was assigned #77 last fall.  Similarly, I thought that #50 might go to someone on a try-out but, instead, it’s been assigned to Dominik Shine, with Ryan Kuffner having taken the #56 that Shine wore in camp last year.

Goalie Calvin Pickard, the Red Wings’ only remaining free agent signing to not have a number announced, has taken #31.  He’s worn #30 in the past but Detroit has that semi-retired for Chris Osgood, it would seem.

The #3 worn last season by Nick Jensen has been assigned to defenseman Jared McIsaacLibor Sulak‘s #47 has gone to Marcus Crawford of the Griffins.

Any other changes are related to camp invitees and/or were already confirmed.

The full training camp roster is as follows:

Forwards

Num. Name
8 Justin Abdelkader
11 Filip Zadina
15 Chris Terry
23 Dominic Turgeon
26 Matthew Ford
27 Michael Rasmussen
37 Evgeny Svechnikov
39 Anthony Mantha
41 Luke Glendening
42 Mathieu Bizier
43 Darren Helm
46 Chase Pearson
48 Givani Smith
50 Dominik Shine
51 Valtteri Filppula
54 Matt Puempel
56 Ryan Kuffner
57 Turner Elson
58 David Pope
59 Tyler Bertuzzi
61 Jacob de la Rose
62 Cody Morgan
64 Josh Kestner
67 Taro Hirose
70 Christoffer Ehn
71 Dylan Larkin
72 Andreas Athanasiou
73 Adam Erne
75 Troy Loggins
76 Jarid Lukosevicius
78 Gregor MacLeod
79 Thomas Casey
81 Frans Nielsen
82 Tyler Spezia
88 Chad Yetman
89 Owen Robinson
90 Joe Veleno

Defensemen

Num. Name
2 Joe Hicketts
3 Jared McIsaac
17 Filip Hronek
20 Dylan McIlrath
21 Dennis Cholowski
22 Patrik Nemeth
25 Mike Green
28 Gustav Lindstrom
29 Vili Saarijarvi
32 Brian Lashoff
47 Marcus Crawford
52 Jonathan Ericsson
53 Moritz Seider
63 Alec McCrea
65 Danny DeKeyser
74 Madison Bowey
77 Oliwer Kaski
83 Trevor Daley
86 Charle-Edouard D’Astous
87 Marc-Olivier Duquette
94 Alec Regula
98 Owen Lalonde

Goalies

Num. Name
31 Calvin Pickard
35 Jimmy Howard
36 Kaden Fulcher
38 Filip Larsson
45 Jonathan Bernier
60 Pat Nagle
68 Sean Romeo
80 Anthony Popovich

2019 Prospects Tournament Jersey Number Notes

With the Red Wings having released their roster for the 2019 Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, we have a chance to take a look at how the jersey numbers assigned have changed since the team’s development camp in June.

The short answer: Not much.

The Red Wings are bringing many of the same players who were at development camp to Traverse City and most of them are keeping the numbers they had last time around.  That said, there are some changes of note.

Two players will skate with the Red Wings in Traverse City who weren’t at development camp.  Goalies Sean Romeo and Anthony Popovich, both free-agent try-outs, have been assigned the Red Wings’ standard “random goalie prospect numbers,” with Romeo getting #68 and Popovich getting #80.  Try-out Drew DeRidder had been assigned #68 while Keith Petruzelli wore #80.

Given Detroit’s history assigning numbers, these changes are virtually meaningless.

Three players returning from June have new numbers.

Thomas Casey, who wore #50 at development camp, switches to #79, which had been assigned to try-out Samuel Bucek.  No one is assigned #50 for the prospects tournament.

Similarly, Marc-Olivier Duquette switches from #26 to #87, with #26 not assigned.  Charles-Edouard D’Astous, who’d worn #87 at development camp, drops to #86, which was worn by Seth Barton in June.

This could indicate that players wearing #26 and #50 will be in the Red Wings’ main camp.  Those numbers weren’t included when the team announced new numbers for players next season, which would suggest that anyone wearing them in camp would either be a try-out or otherwise not expected to make the Detroit roster.

With that in mind, I’m going to make a couple guesses.

Thomas Vanek remains unsigned and has a good relationship with the Red Wings’ organization, though it was under Ken Holland rather than Steve Yzerman.  As such, the open #26 could be Vanek on a try-out, reclaiming the number he wore last year.

Similarly, #50 could be defenseman Dan Girardi, who usually wears the #5 that is retired in Detroit.  Girardi, coming off of two seasons in Tampa Bay with Yzerman as his GM, might be of interest to Detroit if they were moving one of their current veteran defensemen prior to the start of the season.  Without such a deal, adding Girardi would just contribute to the ever-present blueline logjam throughout the Wings organization.

Of course, it’s “just” the Prospects Tournament, and the players changing are all try-outs, so these number changes could mean nothing.

The full roster is as follows:

Forwards

Num. Name
11 Filip Zadina
42 Mathieu Bizier
79 Thomas Casey
67 Taro Hirose
56 Ryan Kuffner
75 Troy Loggins
76 Jarid Lukosevicius
78 Gregor MacLeod
62 Cody Morgan
46 Chase Pearson
89 Owen Robinson
48 Givani Smith
85 Elmer Soderblom
90 Joe Veleno
88 Chad Yetman

Defensemen

Num. Name
97 Gustav Berglund
86 Charle-Edouard D’Astous
87 Marc-Olivier Duquette
98 Owen Lalonde
28 Gustav Lindstrom
63 Alec McCrea
94 Alec Regula
53 Moritz Seider

Goalies

Num. Name
36 Kaden Fulcher
38 Filip Larsson
80 Anthony Popovich
68 Sean Romeo

Red Wings Defenseman Kronwall Retires

Longtime Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Via a video posted to the Red Wings’ social media accounts, Kronwall stated, “They say every journey has to come to an end.  Well, my journey as a player for the Detroit Red Wings ends here.”

Drafted by Detroit in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Kronwall spent his entire 953-game career with the Red Wings.  He specifically called attention to that in his announcement, thanking the Red Wings’ organization “for believing in me and giving me a chance to stay with the same organization throughout my whole career.  That’s something I always put a big price tag on and I can’t in words express how grateful I am for giving me that opportunity to keep myself and my family around.”

Reportedly the Columbus Blue Jackets had inquired into acquiring Kronwall as a trade deadline rental last season but then-Detroit General Manager Ken Holland didn’t even ask Kronwall if he would be interested, allowing him to close out his career with the team that drafted him.

Kronwall will move into a position in the team’s front office, as Advisor to the General Manager.