Saturday, June 2, 2012

Less Than Perfect But Perfectly Great

The perfect player shoots...and doesn't score?

Nicklas Lidstrom will go straight into the Hall of Fame as one of the best defencemen of his generation but where do writers get the idea that Lidstrom, let alone any player, is perfect? Some writer even claimed he's the perfect human.

I'm confused by all this but should I really be? When Mark Messier retired he was hailed as the greatest leader since Alexander the Great (of the Macedonian League not the Great 8 from Russia). This supreme leader idea was created mainly from the two Cups he won without #99 and especially the Messiah moniker came about after leading the '94 New York Rangers to the Holy Grail. Of course, far be it for me to suggest any discussion of any player's career should cover that player's entire career. It never does as why let the fact that the teams Messier captained for the last seven seasons of his career missed the playoffs every single year get in the way of the myth making.

If Lidstrom is the perfect player would someone please explain to me his performance in the '00, '03, '06 and '12 playoffs.

In '00 and '06 he was either the worst (or tied for worse in '06) plus/minus player on the team. Yes, he logged the most minutes per game but maybe he should have had his ice time curtailed just a bit so he'd have been fresher those two seasons when the Avs got revenge in rd. two in '00 and the Wings got Rolosoned by the Edmonton Oilers in '06.

If we tote it up, those four playoff seasons spit out a stat line as follows:
23GP 3G 7A -11

Offensively very good even with not getting a single point in this year's playoffs but defensively is -11 considered perfection? Yes, it's nitpicking (sent your hate mail to this man) as out of a 20-year NHL career he's basically had 16 very good to great playoff seasons, but recalling my elementary school math, that still is not "perfect" no matter how you twist the New Math.

So, please, let's be satisfied by saying Lidstrom was the Jean Beliveau of his generation--pure class with a high calibre of play and enough Cups and awards to say he was one of the best. I'll even go with the Doug Harvey comparison even if this writer also overplays the perfect angle. Personally, I think Lidstrom was more like a better Mark Howe even if Lidstrom never played at an all-star left wing level early in his career like Mark did with his brother and dad.

Class--thy name is Beliveau

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