Nicklas Lidstrom has chosen to return to the Detroit Red Wings instead of retiring.
The star defenseman signed a one-year contract, the team announced yesterday, 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,’’ said coach Mike Babcock.
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 (8) and Doug Harvey’s (7) 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’s 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.
That’s fine with the Chicago Blackhawks stars as long as they keep winning. The Blackhawks lead the Flyers, 2-0, entering tonight’s Game 3 in Philadelphia.
Kane hasn’t scored in six straight games; Toews in four straight.
Yes, both players would like to start scoring. But their absence in the goal column hasn’t affected the Blackhawks in the win column. Chicago has won seven straight games in the playoffs and 10 of 11.
The home-ice advantage might not mean as much as usual in Philadelphia. The Blackhawks are 7-1 on the road this postseason as they try to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961.
The Blue Jackets have interviewed American Hockey League coaches Kevin Dineen of Portland and Scott Arniel of Manitoba, and are reportedly interested in Hamilton coach Guy Boucher. Blue Jackets interim head coach Claude Noel is also a candidate.
The club is looking for a replacement for Ken Hitchcock, who was fired Feb. 3.
Howson said he would make the ultimate decision on the new coach, after consulting with majority owner John P. McConnell and team president Mike Priest.