Calgary Herald

Lidstrom back in fold with Wings

- bob duFF

When hockey players sleep, they dream of winning the Stanley Cup. When NHL general managers close their eyes, they often have nightmares.

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland was happy to report Monday that his recurring nightmare wasn’t about to come true. The one where captain Nicklas Lidstrom tells Holland he’s done with hockey.

“I’m pleased to announce that Nick Lidstrom has decided to play this coming season,” Holland said with a mix of obvious relief and unmitigate­d joy. “Obviously, it’s a real important decision for our hockey club.”

Had Lidstrom, 41, hung up his skates, it would have proven to be hockey Armageddon in Hockeytown. Take away Lidstrom and fellow rearguard Brian Rafalski, who retired late last month, and you might as well pack away Detroit’s perennial label as Stanley Cup contenders.

“If we’d have lost both, it would have probably been devastatin­g,” Holland admitted. “You’re talking about two elite, puck-moving defencemen.”

Now that theyhaveth­eir Norris Trophy f inalist and captain back in the fold for another year at $6.2 million US, the Wings can begin their rebuild. Instead of an overhaul, it will be an adjustment.

Currently, Detroit lists four defencemen from last year’s team under contract — Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jakub Kindl. Unrestrict­ed free agent Jonathan Ericsson is still talking to the Wings, but the salary numbers he most hopes to hear won’t be delivered via Holland’s lips.

“We’re going to make a decision on him in the next 10 days,” Holland said of Ericsson, who is free to shop his services to the highest bidder come July 1.

Holland talked excitedly of the potential of former firstround pick and American HockeyLeag­ueall-rookieteam member Brendan Smith.

“We’re going to give him every opportunit­y to make the team in training camp,” he said of Smith.

Journeyman Doug Janik, who downed a cup of coffee in Detroit last season, could fit into the mix as the seventh defender.

“We’re going to give him opportunit­y to fight for one of the spots on defence,” Holland said.

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