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Nicklas Lidstrom credits former teammate and Lightning GM Yzerman for early, important lessons

When Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom on Thursday announced his retirement, the first former teammate he thanked was Steve Yzerman. When Lidstrom talked about building the foundation for his career, Yzerman -– Detroit’s captain when Lidstrom joined the team in 1991 and now the Lightning’s general manager -- was his first reference point.

“Stevie was our leader,” Lidstrom said. “What I learned from him over the years was his work ethic. He never took anything for granted. He worked hard whether it was on the ice in practice or in the gym afterward. When you see a player like that, one of the leaders and one of the best player in the world do that, it’s easy for young guys to follow.”

“Nick’s being very kind and I appreciate it,” Yzerman said told the Tampa Bay Times. “But the reality is from the very first day, Nick was the same way: professional, classy, hard-working. He never changed for 20 years.”

Yzerman, who played 14 seasons and won three Stanley Cups with Lidstrom, called his former teammate one of the NHL’s greatest players regardless of position.

“The consistency that he played with over 20 years from such a high level, from his very first game in the NHL, puts him among the all-time greats,” Yzerman said.

"I don't know that people realize or appreciate how skilled he was," Yzerman added. "Positionally, he was so strong and his instincts were so good; his skills, his passing skills, his ability to pick a puck out of the air. He was a tremendous athlete, but because he was such an intelligent player it wasn't obvious. Everything he did was subtle. I always compare him to Roger Federer. he plays hockey like Roger Federer plays tennis."

[Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 6:10pm]


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