DETROIT — It didn’t take long for Detroit Red Wings’ captain Nick Lidstrom to decide he’s just got too much gas left in the tank to call it a Hall of Fame career.
Lidstrom ended the speculation about his future Tuesday by signing a one-year deal worth $6.2 million US to play his 19th season for the Wings.
The 40-year-old Lidstrom remains the Wings’ highest paid defenceman and third-highest paid player after Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
“It was somewhat of a difficult decision,” Lidstrom said.
“I still felt I had a lot of hockey left in me, but I’m getting older and I had some family issues to discuss before I made my decision.
“Once I had those discussions, I decided I wanted to come back fairly quickly.”
Lidstrom said the key issues he had to deal with were his son’s (Kevin) desire to attend a Swedish school this fall, his health and whether he felt the Wings would remain a Stanley Cup contender.
“He’ll probably attend a Swedish school this fall and that was a big decision for our family,” Lidstrom said. “Hockey-wise, I felt I had a lot left in me. I felt healthy. I felt better in the second half of the season and the playoffs.
“It might have been a different situation for me if the team was going to rebuild and start over. But I still believe this team is a contender. I really like the core of the team. We have a lot of players just coming into their prime or who are in their primes.”
Lidstrom, who negotiates his own contracts, said the Wings offered him a two-year deal but he’s more comfortable taking it one season at time.
He also didn’t rule out playing another year after this one.
“I’ll wait and see how I feel next summer, that’s the way it’s going to be now,” Lidstrom said. “It’ll be the same decision next year.”
Lidstrom’s decision will make for a much more relaxed summer for Wings’ general manager Ken Holland. He’s free to concentrate on basically retaining the Wings’ own personnel.
“I guess I get to keep my job for another year,” joked Holland, who has long said the day Lidstrom retires is the day he’ll retire. “I’m very excited.
“I still believe, especially after watching him the last half of the year and in the playoffs, that we have the best two-way defenceman in the world.”
While Lidstrom’s presence is the most important thing to the Wings, the fact he took a $1.25-million pay cut also helps significantly.
“He’s helped give us some extra salary-cap space,” Holland said.
“Hopefully, the cap goes up a little. Hopefully, we’ll have a little wiggle room to improve the depth of the team.’’
Holland said he expects the cap to rise by $2 million US to between $58 and $59 million.
After a slow start last season, Lidstrom finished with a flourish last winter.
He had 49 points, 36 of those coming in the second half, averaged over 25 minutes per game and was a plus-22.
He was tied with Brian Rafalski in playoff scoring among defencemen when the Wings were eliminated after two rounds.
Lidstrom also continued his remarkable run of durability, being one of only three Wings to play all 82 games last season. He’s missed only 34 games in his 18-year NHL career.
“I feel real good about my decision,” Lidstrom said.
“I’m excited and looking forward to getting going next season. I’ve already started working out in preparation for next season.”
With the Swedish native returning for a fifth season as Wings’ captain, Lidstrom becomes the fourth-longest serving Detroit captain in club history after Steve Yzerman (20 seasons), Alex Delvecchio (12) and Sid Abel (nine).
With the Wings expected to be able to keep their team together while San Jose and Chicago are expected to lose some players to salary-cap issues, Lidstrom expects Detroit to once again assert itself in the West.
“It’s going to be even tighter in the Western Conference next year with other teams having salary-cap issues,” Lidstrom said. “The young players are demanding bigger contracts and you’re going to see that (players leaving).
“With us being able to keep our team together and being healthy again, I expect us to be real solid.”
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