Yzerman names Lidstrom new Red Wings VP of hockey operations

NHL legend returns to Red Wings with front office role

DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 13: Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on against the Boston Bruins on February 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (Gregory Shamus, 2011 Getty Images)

DETROIT – The new Detroit Red Wings vice president of hockey operations is an old favorite: Nicklas Lidstrom.

Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman is bringing in his former teammate to help run the franchise. The organization announced Tuesday that Lidstrom “will be involved in all aspects of hockey operations for the Red Wings in his new role.”

Lidstrom retired from hockey in May 2012 after a 20-season NHL career with a long list of accolades including four Stanley Cup championships (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008) with the Red Wings.

Lidstrom was a 7-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman. He compiled 1,142 points in 1,564 NHL games, all of which were with the Red Wings. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, his first year of eligibility. He was also named one of the NHL’s “100 Greatest Players.”

The Lidstrom family moved back to Sweden after his retirement. They thanked Detroiters in an ad that ran in the Sunday edition of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. In the ad, Lidstrom and his wife Annika thanked Metro Detroiters for welcoming them and making their transition from Sweden easier.

“We will always cherish our time spent here and are proud to claim that we are also from Detroit,” read the ad.

It’s unclear if he will be moving back to the area, but we definitely welcome him. Lidstrom has been spotted recently among the crowd at Little Caesars Arena.

Related: “It’s surreal that my name’s going up there, too” -- Red Wings honor Nicklas Lidstrom with retirement of his No. 5

Lidstrom drafted in 1989

The 1989 NHL draft class will go down as one of the most notable. It included players such as Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure, Vladimir Konstantinov and many more NHL standouts. Lidstrom was selected 53rd overall in the third round of the 1989 draft by Detroit. The Wings passed up a lot of Canadian and American players for the tall, slim Swede.

They wouldn’t have to wait long for Lidstrom to shine. He scored 11 goals and 49 assists in his 1991-92 rookie season and led all Red Wings defensemen with 60 points.

Detroit dug even deeper in the 1989 draft as they selected Fedorov 74th overall and Konstantinov 221st overall. The low draft picks with big impact would become a trend for the Wings in the following decade.

Nicknamed “The Perfect Human,” Lidstrom became the first European captain to lead the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup championship (2008). In fact he was the first ever European-born captain to lift the Stanley Cup. He had big skates to fill when Yzerman retired in 2006 after 20 seasons with the C, and he filled them well.

New Swedish prospects for Red Wings

The Red Wings of today are still pulling talent out of Sweden, not the least of which is 2020 first-round draft pick Lucas Raymond. Raymond is among the NHL’s top rookies this season.

But the list of Swedish prospects does not end there for Detroit. Defenseman Gustav Lindstrom has been developing since his draft in 2017. Albert Johansson (D), 21, was drafted by Yzerman in 2019, as were forwards Elmer Söderblom and Albin Grewe.

Defensemen William Wallinder and Gustav Berglund were selected in 2020, as was forward Theodor Niederbach. And in 2021 the Red Wings drafted 6-foot-5 defenseman Simon Edvinsson out of Sweden at 6th overall.

Again, all of these prospects are from Sweden, so for them to be greeted by one of hockey’s most legendary defenseman in Lidstrom ... that’s special. Lidstrom clearly knows the path they must take to be successful when moving to North America to compete in the NHL.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings front office includes quite the list of former players including Yzerman, Lidstrom, Kris Draper (Director of Amateur Scouting), Niklas Kronwall (European Player Development), Pat Verbeek (Assistant GM), Jiri Fischer (Associate Director of Player Personnel) and Dan Cleary (Assistant Director of Player Development).

View: Detroit Red Wings 2021 NHL Entry Draft picks

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.