Yzerman tabs Lidstrom as new Red Wings VP of hockey operations

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The Red Wings are adding one of the best defenseman to ever play to the front office.

General manager and executive vice president Steve Yzerman announced Tuesday that the Wings have hired Nicklas Lidstrom as vice president of hockey operations.

Lidstrom, 51, will be involved in all aspects of hockey operations for the Red Wings in his new role.

Former Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has joined Detroit's front office.

But if Lidstrom is interested in returning to the ice as a player, Yzerman would be all for that also.

"We can do the team thing, too, if you want to talk about that," joked Yzerman, while introducing Lidstrom on Tuesday during a Zoom conference.

Lidstrom spent his illustrious 20-year career with the Wings, winning four Stanley Cups, seven Norris trophies (best defenseman), and a Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in 2002, before retiring in 2012 and being named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

Lidstrom's No. 5 jersey was retired by the Wings during the 2013-14 season.

The timing of his return to hockey in a full-time capacity was right for Lidstrom.

"My kids are getting older, one living at home but pretty soon he'll be out of the house, and this was the right time for kind of the next challenge for me, to do something different," he said. "I always kept an eye on hockey and this was a great opportunity for me to do that.

"I've always loved hockey and watched the NHL ever since I moved back to Sweden. I've tried to follow the league and players and pay close attention to the NHL and I've always one day wanted to get back into it again."

Yzerman and Lidstrom first talked about the idea of Lidstrom taking on this role in November during the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions. Yzerman felt adding Lidstrom's hockey knowledge would be a valuable addition to the front office.

"I played with him a majority of his career and we had a lot of success together," Yzerman said. "I not only relied on him to lead us on the ice but he was always a great teammate and resource, and as captain of the team, to bounce ideas off Nick.

"He was a tremendous voice of reason for me. He's a first-class person with great character and tremendous wealth of knowledge of the game. For me it was an easy decision."

Lidstrom will continue to live in Sweden and work with a variety of departments in the organization.

"I'd like Nick to be involved in every aspect of it," Yzerman said. "He can be a resource in all aspects, provide insight and opinions. For all us in the organization, to be able to pick his brain and to ask his opinion and get his viewpoint, or whatever it is we're doing, he's a tremendous resource for us."

Lidstrom appreciates the opportunity to learn how the organization works, and doesn't have a long-term idea of what he wants this opportunity to lead to.

"It's just a matter of me getting involved again and getting to know the organization," Lidstrom said. "I haven't considered down the road what is going to happen. I'm just happy getting into being involved again and I'm going to take it from there.

"We all want to see the team and organization make progress and become better and start making the playoffs again. That's the goal for everyone, and if I can be a small piece in helping out in different areas, whether it be amateur scouting or watching the prospects we have here in Europe, or Canada or the U.S,, just helping out and chipping in to make this team better again."

Lidstrom has watched many Wings games this season back in Sweden, and has been pleased with the progress shown.

"I've seen improvement in all aspects, whether it be goaltending, defense or forwards, we've seen progress," Lidstrom said. "That goes to the new guys, the two rookies, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, they've added right away and stepped in and played well for the team.

"We're on the right track. We're doing things to get better and those young players will help us."

Lidstrom and Yzerman join Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Jiri Fischer (all with the Wings), Brendan Shanahan (Toronto), Luc Robitaille (Los Angeles), Chris Chelios (Chicago), Brett Hull (St. Louis), Ken Holland (Edmonton), Jim Nill (Dallas) and Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, as former players or front office members off the 2002 Stanley Cup-winning Red Wings team who are in prominent front-office roles around the NHL or Europe.

"I don't think I'm really surprised," Yzerman said. "The majority of that group are really into hockey, have a passion for the game, watching it, being around it, and it shows in them wanting to continue. They love the challenge, the wins and losses matter, and they're very competitive and want to be involved.

"They love the game. Being in management or coaching, it's not glamorous. You all live it in traveling on plans and going around, you really have to love the game to be involved with it and that group of guys, I'm not really surprised, because the majority of them are really into hockey and love being part of it."


Twitter: @tkulfan