PLYMOUTH, Mich. — It was nearly impossible to get Nick Lidstrom angry.
Henrik Zetterberg, on the other hand, could be a different story as the new Red Wings captain, which was officially announced at a press conference before Tuesday’s Red-White scrimmage game at Compuware Arena.
Nothing ever bothered Lidstrom. He wasn’t upset when Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby didn’t shake his hand after beating the Wings in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
When asked, Lidstrom said he didn’t care that people routinely mispronounced or misspelled his name as “Lindstrom” — even after 20 years in the NHL.
No one could ever come close to Lidstrom’s consistent level of calm, not even a fellow Swede.
Zetterberg is hardly a hothead. He’s a fairly even-keeled guy, as most Swedes are. But he’s got more of an edge to him than Lidstrom ever had.
If you recall the Crosby incident — although Kris Draper was the most furious about it at the time — Zetterberg spoke out, saying Crosby was disrespectful for not shaking Lidstrom’s hand.
Zetterberg also made sure to express his displeasure at the lack of punishment for Nashville’s Shea Weber when Weber shoved his head into the glass in the first round of the playoffs last season.
“I thought it was dirty,” Zetterberg said after the incident. “I think it was directed toward my head. And if you look at what’s happened over the last few years with all of the head injuries, I don’t think that should belong in the game.”
Those aren’t exactly fighting words, but they are pointed. Zetterberg doesn’t hide his feelings.
I would expect a similar leadership style from Zetterberg as he assumes the Red Wings captaincy.
In fact, he might be a little more like Steve Yzerman, Detroit’s captain from 1986–2006, before Lidstrom took over. As a rookie, Zetterberg’s home locker at Joe Louis Arena was right next to Yzerman’s.
Yzerman was a quiet leader, but he wasn’t afraid to show a flash of irritation when it was warranted. Zetterberg seems similar in that sense.
Zetterberg is also not afraid to reach out to others. He spoke to Lidstrom before Tuesday’s press conference and mentioned many of his current teammates as leaders in the dressing room.
“I think just playing with Nick for my whole career here, just to see how he prepares himself, how he handled himself on and off the ice and just lead by example, and that’s what he did,” Zetterberg said. “I played with many good leaders since I got here, and not just Stevie and Nick.
“There was Draper, (Chris) Chelios. There are so many guys that I played with that you learn from, so you try to take bits and pieces from all the guys that you play with. They really formed the player who I am now.”
It’s almost hard to believe that Zetterberg is even in this position, considering he was once a lowly seventh-round draft choice in 1999, the 210th overall selection.
“Our scouting staff saw something they liked, and they picked him when nobody else was going to pick him at that stage of the game,” general manager Ken Holland said. “After we drafted him, he was the rookie of the year in the Swedish Elite League, he was the most valuable player in the Swedish Elite League. In ’02, he was the only player that the Swedes took over to the Olympics in Salt Lake City that was not an NHL player.
“It became pretty apparent within a short time after we drafted him that we had a special player on our hands.”
Now that special player joins a very special, elite group — Red Wings captains.