March 26, 2011
Lebda can't avoid Detroit memories
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
Brett Lebda didn’t need much of a reminder that he won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
Just outside the visitors’ dressing room at Joe Louis Arena is a list of the players and other team personnel that won the Cup three years ago, and Lebda’s name was there for all to see. That’s the way it is around the Joe, where you can’t walk three feet without seeing another reminder of the recent Cup victories.
When players leave the Red Wings dressing room to walk on to the ice, they’re looking directly at large headshots of captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman, who has a nearby street named after him.
“(The tradition) is emphasized and it’s something you pick up on,” Lebda, was in back in the lineup for the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, said. “It started (in modern times) with Steve Yzerman, was passed to Nicklas, and now it is being passed to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. It goes down the line.
“They don’t get good draft picks because they are in the playoffs every year, but they find a way to find those players.”
Lebda, who signed with the Leafs last summer, spent five seasons with the Wings.
“It’s good to reminisce, but we are in a playoff race here,” the 29-year-old said. “I’m seeing some old friends, but the bottom line is trying to win.”
Age is a number
Lidstrom will turn 41 on April 28, and though it does not look like it when he plays, he does not need to be told how old he is.
But for Lidstrom, who never has missed more than six games in one season since becoming a presence on the Wings blue line in 1991-92, it’s not until the next day that his body starts to tell him it’s not what it once was.
“On the ice, I feel the same that I did 10 years ago,” Lidstrom said. “The only thing I really notice is the day after a game, or getting on the ice the morning after a game. But once I get going, I feel really good out there. It helps that I take care of myself in the off-season.”
Lidstrom will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he clearly has a few years left in him. Prior to Saturday’s games, Lidstrom was tied with Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes with 58 points, good for second among NHL blueliners and only three behind the Anaheim Ducks’ Lubomir Visnovsky, who had 61.
“I wanted to have a stronger year than I did last year,” said Lidstrom, who had 49 points in 2009-10. “I don’t think I played up to what I was capable of last year.”
Toronto native and Red Wings forward Kris Draper on playing the Leafs: “It does not matter what time of year it is, or whoever is playing well or who isn’t — whenever it is Toronto and Detroit, it is special.” ... Entering play last night, the Leafs had three players — Phil Kessel (29 goals), Mikhail Grabovski (28) and Nikolai Kulemin (28) — within close range of 30 goals. Not since 1995-96, when Mike Gartner (35 goals) Mats Sundin (33) and Doug Gilmour (32) have the Leafs had three players hit 30 goals in one season.