As what promises to be a great and fast-paced Stanley Cup Finals between the Kings and the Devils gets started, there is some unfortunately and sad news in the hockey world. On Thursday, Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the best in the game, announced his retirement from the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL. He leaves behind a legacy full of memorable moments and experiences that will never be able to be replaced.

Lidstrom is without a doubt one of the greatest defensemen in the history of the NHL, right up there with Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, Ray Bourque and Denis Potvin. What reinforces that is that before he retired he would be considered the best at the position even though he’s 42. He even won the Norris Trophy last season at the age of 41. He leaves as the all time leader in games played with a single team at 1,564. In the free agency era where players may wear several different jerseys throughout their careers, Lidstrom stands as a testament to a dying breed.

He had an incredible ability to make the right play on almost every shift he had on the ice. He elevated the play of everyone around him and was without a doubt the backbone and heart of the Red Wings franchise. This was even more apparent when Lidstrom was injured last season and the Wings played like a completely different team. Now the Detroit front office has the incredibly difficult task of trying to replace him, which of course will not happen since you just can’t replace that type of player. Former 1st round pick Brendan Smith could step up his game or the team could go the free agent route with someone like Ryan Suter. Either way the game just won’t be the same without Lidstrom and I’m sure plans are already in the works for Detroit to retire his number.