DETROIT -

Nicklas Lidstrom retires 5312012 3 After 20 seasons in the NHL, Nicklas Lidstrom has willfully lowered the curtain on his Hall-Of-Fame-worthy career.

The lifetime Detroit Red Wings defenseman announced his retirement Thursday morning during a news conference at Joe Louis Arena.

Watch: Lidstrom news conference
Watch: Local 4 catches up with Lidstrom

"Today, after 20 seasons as a defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings, I am announcing my retirement," Lidstrom said.

Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch called it one of the most emotional days in Red Wings history. He thanked the team's Swedish scouts for bringing Lidstrom to Detroit.

Images: Lidstrom's retirement announcement

"I would like to thank Jim Nill," Ilitch said.

Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said he had been dreading Lidstrom's retirement since he became GM.

"When you think about Nick, for me it's about class," Holland said. "I think he's been the most valuable player of his era. He's going to go down in history as one of the greatest Red Wings, as one of the greatest players at his position."

More: Lidstrom retires after 20 seasons

Lidstrom said he and his family are comfortable with his decision. He said it came down to how he felt about his level of play and how he felt in the offseason.

"I don't have what I feel like I have to have to play at my level," he said.

Lidstrom said injuries later in his career did make him feel slower and not as ready for the playoffs. Once he started his offseason workouts he knew he didn't have the drive to come back for another season.

"If I cheat myself and come back and don't play at the level I want to, I think that's on me and that's not something I want to do," he said.

The 42-year-old veteran said he and his family will move back to Sweden. He said the Detroit area has become a second home, but he wants to be closer to family. His son is already in Sweden playing hockey.

Watch: Annika Lidstrom comments on husband's retirement

Long career was not on his mind from the start

Lidstrom didn't consider a 20-year career in the NHL. He said he was just happy to get the opportunity to play.

"I thought I was going to play for a few years. I had no vision of how long I was going to be doing this," Lidstrom said.

Twenty years later and he is a 7-time Norris Trophy winner and 4-time Stanley Cup winner. He has 1,142 points in 1,564 NHL games, all of which have been with the Red Wings. He recalled his first Norris Trophy as the most memorable because he was competing with someone he really looked up to, former Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque.

Poll: Who should be next captain of Red Wings?

When asked if he would weigh in on who Detroit should choose as his successor as captain, Lidstrom said he believes the team management and coaches will make the right decision. Although he did mention Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula as good candidates in his mind.

Nicklas Lidstrom retires 5312012 2

Steve Yzerman had big influence on young Lidstrom

He said Steve Yzerman was a big impression on him when he joined the team. Yzerman's work ethic stood out to him.