|"I'm going to take my time before making a decision. We'll have our meetings and go from there. I'm going to take the whole year into account. I'll take about as much time as last year. I'll meet with the coaching staff. It's been tough the last couple of years."|
Lidstrom's departure from the NHL would be a good thing for the Edmonton Oilers (and every other team in the Western Conference) but a terrible thing for the league and hockey in general. Though he's toyed with the idea for each of the last four years, he's 41 and not getting any younger. He's got more money than Davy Crockett and has captured nearly every possible accolade a man in the NHL could dream of.
He's the best defenseman the game has known since Bobby Orr's knees went on him and he's neck-and-neck for the best player the league has known since Gretzky and Lemieux retired (Lemieux's first retirement) with Jaromir Jagr. He's a quiet, calm, leader, a man who is the pinnacle of grace, class and dignity. And while others will come along to equal and probably one day surpass his on-ice records, Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, Victor Hedman and the next bonus baby defenseman will be hard-pressed to match the man.
I've never been a fan of announcing a final season so that the media can treat it as a retirement circuit (see Erving, Julius) and if Lidstrom does decide he's had enough, going out quietly while playing the toughest possible minutes on the biggest stage in the world is a fitting send-off for the all-time great.