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Nicklas Lidstrom should not retire this year

Nicklas Lidstrom, Andy McDonald

St. Louis Blues’ Andy McDonald, right, reaches for the puck as Detroit Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom, of Sweden, skates up the ice during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, in St. Louis. The Blues won 4-3 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


Nicklas Lidstrom isn’t going to think about retirement - one way or the other - until the playoffs are over, according to a story written by Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.

Lidstrom, 39, is in the last year of his contract. Although general manager Ken Holland and Mike Babcock have made it clear they want and expect him to return next season, Lidstrom said he wouldn’t make any decision about his future until after the season.

“It’s more a matter of looking forward to the playoffs,” he said. “When you’ve been in so many playoff years and rounds, you just look forward to it. The intensity picks up, the fans get into it, it’s a lot of fun.”

Count me among the people who think that the genius Swede has plenty left in the tank. Many people will look at his “pedestrian” 49 points and the Red Wings’ on-and-off struggles and think that Lidstrom lost a step. Maybe that’s true, but I look at that drop a little differently; it’s more like going from “superhuman” to “alien life form good” instead of great to decent.

He still logs big minutes, plays great shutdown defense and scores a nice amount of points. The one point in favor of retirement is if Lidstrom himself is bothered even by the slightest slippage. One of the saddest things in sports is seeing a once-great player devolve into a shell of himself. I don’t think there’s much of a risk of that, but you never know.

Then again, if Lidstrom were to take a generous pay cut (say, a $5 million cap hit instead of his current $7.45 million), the Red Wings would have about $12 million to spend on improving their depth. By coming back for another year, Lidstrom could experience another season on a dominant Detroit team. Plus, there’s ... you know, the money.