Doughty marvels at Lidstrom
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|Kings defenceman Drew Doughty speaks to the media in Newark, N.J., May 29, 2012. (MIKE SEGAR/Reuters)
NEWARK - It is the greatest compliment and an indication of Nicklas Lidstrom's stature that on an off-day at the Stanley Cup final, where players are consumed with winning the ultimate prize, they would take time out to speak so glowingly of the Detroit Red Wings defenceman.
Lidstrom, 42, announced his retirement Thursday.
Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, 22, viewed as one of the heirs apparent to Lidstrom as a dominating defenceman in the game, called the announcement "sad."
Doughty said that earlier in his career he would study tapes of Lidstrom's game to try to decipher what made him so good.
"On the ice there were times when I would watch video ... just to see how positionally good he was, just learning those kinds of things from him," Doughty said. "I got to meet him off the ice once. The way he carries himself off the ice, he's a real leader and that's why he has been their captain for so long."
Doughty said he marvelled most about two things: How seemingly little effort Lidstrom put into his game to be so astonishingly efficient, and his consistency.
Doughty said the key was Lidstrom's awareness of his positioning on the ice at all times and where he needed to be.
"Me, playing defence, I'm having to take hard strides all the time. You watch him play a game, I don't think he ever took a hard stride. It just seems like he's gliding there, but at the same time he's always right in the exact position he needs to be and right on top of guys.
"I still to this day don't know how he did it. I'll always remember the things he did and try to model myself after him one day."
Doughty was asked about Lidstrom making the playoffs every year of his 20-season career, a string of excellence that, in this era of parity, might never be accomplished again.
"To be able to do that is pretty much impossible," Doughty said.
Doughty admired Lidstrom's consistency.
"You never saw him give his 'D' partner a 2-on-1, or you never saw him get beat on a 1-on-1 because he was so focused and so prepared for every single game he played in," he said.
"I think a lot of us young D-men really looked up to him and it's kind of sad to see him go."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter saw a lot of Lidstrom over the years -- probably more than he cared for -- and never did come up with a way to "get to him."
"He was a hard guy to coach against, and I did it a lot, being in Chicago and then San Jose and Calgary, I coached against him lots in big games," Sutter said. "He was a frustrating guy to coach against because you could never get to Nicklas Lidstrom. You could never get to him, no matter how you forechecked or how you set up.
"He was one of the few guys ever who could control the game from the defence position and I don't know how many of those guys there are. In recent history, (Ray) Bourque, Lidstrom, not many. When we were kids you thought Bobby Orr could do that, right? Pretty awesome player."
Sutter, a man of usually of few words, pretty much said it all.