DETROIT – Nicklas Lidstrom has been nominated to win the Norris Trophy.
Yes, you’ve read that before.
The Detroit Red Wings star was named a finalist on Monday—for the 11th time in 13 seasons—for the award that honours the NHL’s top defenceman. Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Nashville’s Shea Weber are the other finalists.
“It’s always something special,” Lidstrom said. “I’ve won it a few times.”
Actually, a few times two.
Lidstrom collected six trophies—five are in his office at home in suburban Detroit, one is in his native Sweden—in a seven-season stretch before Chara claimed the Norris in 2009 and Chicago’s Duncan Keith won it last year.
If Lidstrom wins his seventh on June 22, he will match Doug Harvey’s total and trail Bobby Orr’s record by only one.
“There’s no player that’s been as good as long in my opinion,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of his star defenceman, who turns 41 on Thursday.
Unlike Tiger Woods, who acknowledges he’s chasing Jack Nicklaus record of 18 majors, Lidstrom insisted that matching or breaking Orr’s mark is not a goal.
As he celebrates his birthday, Detroit should finally know who it is playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and forward Johan Franzen should be healthy enough to play. Franzen skated Monday after his teammates practised, resting his injured left ankle, and is expected to be on the ice when the Red Wings resume the post-season toward the end of the week.
Lidstrom is 15 years older than Weber and seven years older than Chara, but he’s still at least as good as both standouts on the blue-line. He has 62 points this season—surpassing his production from each of the previous two years—to rank second among NHL defenceman.
Chara is a finalist for the third time in the past four seasons and fourth time overall.
The Bruins captain led all players with a plus-33 rating. The 34-year-old Slovak recorded 44 points (14-30) and ranked second among NHL blue-liners in shots (264) and was tied for third with eight power-play goals.
Weber, a 25-year-old native of Sicamous, B.C., is a first-time Norris nominee. He appeared in all 82 games and was third in the NHL in ice time with an average of 25:19 per game.
Weber had 48 points (16-32) and set single-season career highs in several categories, including games, average ice time, assists and shots (254).
“It means a lot to me to play at this level in this league at this age,” Lidstrom said. “I sat next to Chris Chelios for nine years, so I saw up close what it takes at this age to stay in shape.”
Lidstrom’s six-foot-two, 190-pound body is chiseled thanks to a year-round workout that includes exercise before practice and after games along with a sensible diet.
He eats oatmeal, three eggs over easy, toast or bagel, coffee and juice made by his wife at home or by a cook on the road for breakfast. Spaghetti with meat sauce and grilled chicken are on the menu for lunch followed by soup or salad before the puck drops.
When Lidstrom gets home after games, he eats “whatever is in the fridge” and usually washes it down with Amstel Light or cabernet.
“Sure, I eat junk food like pizza or McDonald’s, but not that often,” Lidstrom said. “When you work out as much as we do it helps to stay in shape, but I really take care of myself in the off-season.”
The four-time Stanley Cup champion decided last summer to put retirement on hold, pausing only because his oldest son started school in Sweden last fall, and signed a US$6.2 million, one-year deal. Just like it’s tough to trick him on the ice, Lidstrom won’t get fooled into providing a hint about his plans for next season.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “I’ll wait until the end of the year.”
Mike Modano is in his first year with Lidstrom as a teammate after playing against him the previous 18 seasons.
“Nick’s intelligence is what sets him a part,” Modano said. “He knows where to be all the time without having to overexert himself and without getting hit too often.
“It’s frustrating playing against him. He’s not physically wearing you down, but he’s always in the way with his body or his stick and you just can’t get away from him.”
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard is glad that’s a fact more time than not, getting a great view of Lidstrom’s talents when opponents have the puck.
“When you watch a guy come down the ice and see No. 5 in front, you can see the look of frustration come over their face,” Howard said. “They usually just dump it in.”
(With files from the Canadian Press)