Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lidstrom In Danger Of Becoming A Trivia Answer

Danny Gare scored 354 goals in his 13-year NHL career. He played in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals. He made some All-Star teams. Twice he scored at least 50 goals in a season.

Yet around here, he's no more than the answer to a trivia question.

Gare was the Red Wings' last captain before Steve Yzerman. He wore the "C" from 1982-86, when the Red Wings were derisively called The Dead Things. Detroit was the furthest thing from Hockeytown in those days.

Gare: Red Wings captain from 1982-86

Gare was a fine hockey player, one that deserves more than just being "the guy who was the captain before Steve Yzerman."

Nick Lidstrom is a Hall of Famer. No question about that. He will be elected, on the first ballot, virtually unanimously. He will go down as one of the ten best defensemen to ever play in the NHL.

And now he, too, will be the answer to a trivia question.

Lidstrom will apparently be named the next Red Wings captain, although coach Mike Babcock says the decision hasn't been finalized. But assuming he will be -- and he will, I believe -- Lidstrom will be "the guy who was captain after Steve Yzerman."

Somebody has to follow Yzerman, of course. Notice I didn't use the word "replace", for that notion is ridiculous. But there has to be a next captain, and Lidstrom makes all the sense in the world. He's been in the league since 1991, and while he's not vocal, Yzerman wasn't either. And, we don't know how many times Yzerman did his talking in the dressing room, anyway.

The best talking is the talking done by actions. Lidstrom will be a fine captain. There's no reason to compare him to Yzerman, because that's counterproductive. Instead, he should be embraced as Nick Lidstrom, captain. Not Nick Lidstrom, the guy after Yzerman.

But, sadly, there's no getting around the fact that Lidstrom is, indeed, the answer to somebody's trivia question. And forever will be. However, it shouldn't besmirch his career, and it's just happenstance that he's becoming captain after the last dude was captain for almost 20 freaking years.

The Red Wings aren't full of peach-fuzzed kids. They have more players 30 years and older than any team in the NHL. They might be as close to a team that needs no true captain as any you'll ever see. But you gotta have a guy that wears the "C". And you can do far worse than Nick Lidstrom, in that capacity.

Danny Gare was one of the few veterans with any hockey playing credibility when he was in Detroit in the 1980's. He was acquired, along with veteran defenseman Jim Schoenfeld, in December 1981 for Mike Foligno and Dale McCourt. It wasn't the greatest of trades, but it wasn't bad. Schoenfeld and Gare provided leadership and presence that the team sorely lacked. And Gare was a logical choice to become captain in 1982. He helmed the Red Wings thru choppy waters when they were mostly rudderless.

Trivia answer or not.

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