NHL: Nicklas Lidstrom to return to Red Wings
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Nicklas Lidstrom chose to return to the Detroit Red Wings instead of retiring.
The star defenseman signed a one-year contract, the team announced Tuesday, instead of hanging up his skates at the age of 40.
"It's a huge benefit anytime you have an upper-echelon player, who can still play at a high level, decide to stay with your organization," coach Mike Babcock told The Associated Press.
Lidstrom was contemplating calling it a career. He has spent all of his 18 NHL seasons with the Red Wings.
The Swede had nine goals and 40 assists for 49 points last season, his second-lowest total in 14, and wasn't a finalist for the Norris Trophy for just the second time in more than a decade.
Just two years ago, though, he was honored as the NHL's best defenseman for a sixth time to put him behind only Bobby Orr's and Doug Harvey's total. Last season, he was still Detroit's top player on the blue line.
Lidstrom has said he is still playing at a high level, but doesn't plan to challenge Chris Chelios' longevity in the league. Chelios played last season at the age of 48.
"If I'm going to continue to play, that's not going to be a goal of mine," Lidstrom said with a smile after the season ended.
San Jose eliminated the Red Wings in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal.
"As we've watched the playoffs, we believe we can still knock on the door next year," Babcock said. "You can't do that if you're losing players, and we're not. In fact, we've already added a little."
Forward Jiri Hudler signed a two-year contract last month, coming back to Detroit after spending a season in Russia, where Dynamo Moscow granted his release.
The 26-year-old Czech had 99 points his last two seasons in the NHL, helping Detroit win the Stanley Cup in 2008 and reach Game 7 of the finals last year.
"It's huge to have Huds back," Babcock said. "Instead of separating Z (Henrik Zetterberg) and Pav (Pavel Datsyuk) on the power play, we can put them on the same unit and let Huds run the other one."