Rather than stating some obvious observations about 2020, I will just start this post with the thought that it was yet another year with some great sports books published. This blog will end 2020 with a review of a 2019 book that was okay, but considering the subject is one of the greatest hockey players in NHL history, it was a bit disappointing. Here is my review of "Nicklas Lidstrom."
“Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection" by Nicklas Lidstrom with Gunnar Nordstrom and Bob Duff
Ice Hockey, professional, memoir, Red Wings, championship
October 1, 2019
3 of 5 stars (okay)
Nicklas Lidstrom is universally considered one of the greatest hockey players to lace up the skates. Over a 20-year career with the Detroit Red Wings, his accomplishments include contributing to four Stanley Cup championships, seven Norris Trophies (awarded to the best defenseman in the NHL), 12 all-star selections and gold medals representing his native Sweden in the Olympics and World Championships. With such an outstanding resume, one would think that a book about him would strive to be as good. While this memoir/biography co-written with Gunnar Nordstrom and Bob Duff is engrossing at times, overall, it doesn't match his play on the ice.
The bulk of the book is a chronological study of his Red Wings career, with some text about his play in Sweden where the Red Wings couldn't believe their luck to find a defenseman with his skill set being under the radar of most scouts. This is mainly because at that time in the 1990's, there was still a misconception that European players couldn't excel in North America. Even though there were stars from Europe previous such Borje Salming (who is mentioned in the book), that mindset allowed Detroit scouts to draft Lidstrom in a lower round that really didn't reflect his greatness.
Because the book concentrates heavily into his Red Wings career, the reader will only gain minimal information on other aspects of Lidstrom's other experience and also his personal life. The most that is covered is the last 10% of the book when his family headed back to Sweden after he retired from the Red Wings. Even that isn't described in great detail – at least nothing close to his time in Detroit.
There is a LOT of praise for Lidstrom throughout the book and numerous quotes from many different people in the NHL. Not only Detroit teammates, but coaches, general managers, fans – just about anyone who saw him play and would be willing to speak to the authors were quoted. While there is no question he was worthy of praise, it was almost too much. He was often called "perfect" as in the perfect player, the perfect person, and such. About the only person who refuted this reputation was Lidstrom himself, who would often remember imperfections he would exhibit. The best example of this was his memory of the last shot of game 7 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals that a Pittsburgh Penguins defender blocked and thereby denied the Red Wings a second straight championship.
Overall, this book is fine to read if one is a big fan of the Red Wings or Lidstrom. However, if a reader wants to learn more about him outside of the Red Wings, there won't be a lot of material. Decent book for a quick read.
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