Nicklas Lidstrom: Norris and Lady Byng candidate

Nicklas Lidstrom has been nominated for both the Norris and Lady Byng trophies. NHLHS Correspondent Christina Roberts breaks down his chances for winning and why both nominations are a pretty big deal.

Nicklas Lidstrom is amazing.

Don’t believe me? Then you’re not a hockey hockey fan. Even if you hate the Detroit Red Wings, can you really say anything bad about Nick Lidstrom? Don’t bring up the fact that he doesn’t fight; he doesn’t need to get in any fights.

Nicklas Lidstrom is the epitome of a classy hockey player. He’s one of the few players left in the league that has that unwritten “do not touch/check/destroy/harm” rule when you’re on the ice with him. He rarely – and I mean rarely – throws a fit over anything. (Although I suppose you get used to goals getting called off thanks to Tomas Holmstrom‘s butt being in the crease and realize it’s a fruitless effort to complain.)

He rarely takes unnecessary penalties. You know that when there’s a two-on-one and the one is Nick Lidstrom, ninety-nine-point-seven percent of the time you know the opposition isn’t going to even get a quality chance. You know that when an announcer for a game makes a comment about [insert player's name] being “the next Nick Lidstrom” or a “Nick Lidstrom-in-training,” that announcer should probably lose their job for not knowing what they’re talking about.

Okay, maybe you don’t think like that if you’re not a Red Wings fan or haven’t been watching Lidstrom play. But you at least know that he’s absolutely astounding at his job.

Nick Lidstrom is a defenseman that only took twenty penalty minutes this season. And he logged the most ice time of any Red Wings player. This is his sixth nomination for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, but the first time in eight seasons. And he’s never won it.

He’s up against Martin St. Louis, who won it over Pavel Datsyuk last year for the first time in six seasons, and Loui Eriksson.

My only question is why Datsyuk isn’t nominated. Then again, it’s not really a question, but more of a general wondering, because I do know the answer. He kind of destroyed his shot at this a few periods into the season when he took a five-minute fighting major in the season-opener. But since that fight, he only registered ten more penalty minutes. Come on, give us a Lady Byng winner with a fighting major for the first time in nearly three decades!

Can Lidstrom win the Lady Byng? Eriksson’s penalty minutes were in the single digits, and St. Louis has been nominated for the past ten-thousand seasons (or six seasons), finally winning it last year over Datsyuk. If Lidstrom does win, I will be genuinely surprised. My guess is that St. Louis will win it for the second year in a row, but we’ll see come the Awards in late June.

But now I turn my attention to Lidstrom’s other nomination. You know, the trophy that’s become synonymous with his name:

The James Norris Memorial Trophy.

He’s won six in his career, third-most of all defensemen in the history of the NHL, one behind Doug Harvey, and two behind Bobby Orr. He’s been nominated for the award ten times (now eleven), and hasn’t finished lower than sixth in voting in over thirteen seasons.

Last year was the first year in who knows how long (probably the lockout since there was no season) that Lidstrom didn’t make it into the top three (he finished fourth in voting).

This year, he’s up against Zdeno Chara, who won it two years ago, and Shea Weber, a first-time nominee.

The only way I can see Lidstrom losing this is because he finished a minus for the first time in his career. Chara could have him beat, +33 to -2. But should a fluky statistic like plus/minus really weigh so heavily on the results of this trophy? Was Lidstrom’s defensive play really that terrible, or is it all just a matter of timing and luck? That’s what the plus/minus stat is sometimes.

At forty-one years of age, would winning the trophy for a seventh time set some kind of age record? Could anyone have predicted nineteen years ago that Nicklas Lidstrom, a nobody Swedish defenseman playing for the Detroit Red Wings be measured as one of the greatest defenseman to ever grace the sport of hockey, let alone still be playing exceptional hockey into his forties?

There is only that one little doubt in my mind that Lidstrom won’t win this trophy. But overall, I think it is rightly his.

Christina Roberts
NHLHS Detroit Red Wings Correspondent
Twitter: @franzenmuth