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Thursday, June 13
Updated: June 14, 12:36 AM ET
Lidstrom first European to win Conn Smythe

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Nicklas Lidstrom only seems to always be on the ice.

Nicklas Lidstrom

The Detroit defenseman won the Conn Smythe Trophy, as the most valuable player of the playoffs, after the Red Wings beat Carolina 3-1 on Thursday night in Game 5 for their third Stanley Cup in six years and 10th in franchise history.

The native of Sweden, who also was a key member of Detroit's Stanley Cup teams in 1997 and '98, became the first European to win the award and just the seventh defenseman to win it. Bobby Orr won it twice.

"I was really surprised to win it,'' Lidstrom said on the ice during the postgame celebration. "I wasn't even thinking about it, really. I'm more happy about winning another Cup, but winning the Conn Smythe is really an honor that I'll never forget.''

Lidstrom didn't have a goal or assist in Game 5, but he quietly dominated in his own way as he always seems to.

"You look at what Nicklas Lidstrom did all the way through the playoffs and he was just about a perfect player on the ice,'' said Detroit coach Scotty Bowman, who announced his retirement after the game. "It's really a wonderful tribute to him.''

One of the reasons the Hurricanes were only able to get off 17 shots was because of Lidstrom's steady play on the blue line.

Lidstrom was regarded as an underrated star -- because his subtle and smooth ways can go unnoticed -- but the 32-year-old is not unheralded anymore.

He won the Norris Trophy last season and is a finalist again this year for the award, which recognizes the NHL's top defenseman. He's also a finalist for the Lady Byng, which awards the player exhibiting sportsmanship and gentlemanly play combined with playing ability.

What makes Lidstrom so impressive is that he's rarely noticed, even when he's on the ice more than anybody.

He averaged more than 31 minutes a game, almost five more than any other teammate and over five more than any Hurricane, and played nearly 12 hours during the playoffs.

He essentially plays mistake-free hockey and is rarely out of position, as his one penalty in 23 playoff games proves.

Lidstrom has a strong shot, which he proved with five goals, including two game-winners and one short-handed. He is also a skilled playmaker as his 16 assists show.

He was at his best offensively, with six points, when the Red Wings were at their worst in the first round against Vancouver. Lidstrom had four assists in the conference final against Colorado.


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