Nicklas Lidstrom Interview
The 2012-2013 NHL season is almost upon us. Training camps begin shortly, but with the
lockout in full swing, what to do? So, I called the best locksmith in the
county to solve the labor strife.
Instead, I went to Kryblo, Sweden to interview, arguably
the greatest defensemen in the history of hockey, former Detroit Red Wing,
If I had a chance to interview Nick, this is what is
would sound like!
Kay: "Valkommen! (Welcome in Swedish)
Kay: "Nick, you are from Sweden, from a small town called Krylbo, what was it like growing up there?"
Lidstrom: "It was wonderful place to grow up; it's clean,no crime, lot's of arts, education and hockey! It's the typical quaint, sleepy,idyllic Swedish mountain town. We have twelve outdoor ice rinks and two indoor rinks--- We played lots of hockey and fished every chance I got!"
Kay: "Twelve outdoor rinks? Wow, that's a lot! When did you start playing hockey?"
Lidstrom: "All pre-school boys age four and up are requiredt to play hockey in the IKEA hockey league."
Kay: "IKEA hockey? Required? Don't they sell...? Aren't they the Wal-Mart of the rest-of- the- world?"
Lidstrom: "They are, but it was IKEA's idea to sponsor leagues for fun and fitness."
Kay: "They sponsor hockey leagues?"
Lidstrom: "Yeah, I started playing hockey as a four- year-old in the ???IKEA Meatball' division and worked my way up to the ???Ready to Assemble' division by the time I was fifteen."
Kay: "Meatball? Ready to Assemble divisions? Huh? Whatever happened to mites, squirt, pee wee, bantam and midgets?"
Lidstrom: "Don't forget other divisions like, furniture, bookshelf, organizer and the best division, the IKEA Catalog Division."
Kay: "You did a lot of fishing in Krylbo, what kind of fish do you fish for? ....Swedish Fish?"
Lidstrom: "Huh? Swedish...Fish? ....That must be an American invention, like the French Fry?"
Kay: "What about massage, Swedish massage? Everyone in Sweden must be good at massage?"
Lidstrom: "Sweden leads the world in massage therapy! It was invented there and we have the greatest masseuses in the world!
Kay: "My back is getting jealous listening to that? Are you as good a masseuse as you are a
Lidstrom: "I'm better in the sauna!"
Kay: "Better in the... sauna? What?"
Lidstrom: "Yeah, there are sauna tournaments. Competitors train for months and years for these events! People are ranked, there are divisions and many have nicknames. As a matter of fact, a Soviet died several years ago trying to break the record."
Kay: "Seriously? A man died trying to break the record; a sauna record?"
Lidstrom: "He stayed in the sauna as long as he could at 230 degrees Fahrenheit!"
Kay: "That's hot! He surely gives a new meaning to the term, ???baked'! How does one train for a
Lidstrom: "A lot has to do with diet --- water and food intake. Many work in hot jobs, but the very best ???saunaers' work in boiler rooms, steel plants and hot tubs."
Kay: "Not to mention, they probably have skin like a lizard."
Lidstrom: "They take sauna competitions very seriously!"
Kay: "I see! There different divisions? Like the bathing suit division and without bathing suit division?"
Lidstrom: "No! There are weight classes and rules."
Kay: "Rules? That's serious!"
Lidstrom: "It is! Timo ???The Teapot' Kaukonen, a 5-time World Sauna champion was just defeated by Ilkkha ???The Steamer' Poyhia."
Kay: "...Diet and exercise, right!?!.... It sounds like professional eating?"
Kay: "You were drafted 53rd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, what did you think about
the NHL and playing in the United States?"
Lidstrom: "In the mid-eighties, social and political unrest took hold in Soviet Union as well as many Eastern bloc countries, including E. Germany. At any given day, one didn't know if their country was going to be invaded, or collapse under communism."
Kay: "So leaving Europe was at the time, a good thing."
Lidstrom: "I was 18-19 years old at the time and lived a very sheltered life playing hockey in Sweden."
Kay: "So, you get a call from the Detroit Red Wings, what did you think?"
Lidstrom: "Honestly, it was something like, 3 am in the morning; I was very groggy when I got the call. I thought the Red Wings were a branch of the Soviet Red Army team!"
Kay: "You thought you were being drafted by the Soviets to play in the U.S.?"
Lidstrom: "Yes! I was scared! I wasn't a Russian; I come from a neutral country! I heard stories about the Red Army team... if you didn't perform, if you didn't play well, you were banished to a hard labor camp in Siberia!"
Kay: "Yes, I have heard stories of hard labor in the Gulag."
Kay: "Soon, you were joined by the likes of Russian stars, Sergei Federov, Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov, Viacheslav Fetisov and Vladamir Konstantinov."
Lidstrom: "Then, I knew I was playing with the Red Army."
Kay: "Originally, weren't the Wings scouting you for a position different than defensemen?"
Lidstrom: "Actually, they were looking at me as a possible goalie."
Kay: "Goalie? Don't they know you play defense?"
Lidstrom: "I thought so?"
Kay: "Your name, Lid- Strom, translated from Swedish means, "The puck stops here," (It actually means ???tree stream') so, I think that's the reason they looked at you as a
Lidstrom: "Yeah, with a name like ???the puck stops here,' who wouldn't want me as there goalie!
Kay: "I'm just glad you didn't end up there!"
Lidstrom: "Me too!"
Kay: "Did anyone realize that, you, ???the puck stops here,' made goalies, Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood potential Hall-of-Famers?"
Lidstrom: "It wasn't all me, I helped make them good, but Hasek, who is from the Czech Republic and Osgood, from Canada were outstanding goalies in their own right."
Kay: "Do you know what Hasek means in Czech?"
Kay: "It means, ???Has Puck!' Do you know what Osgood means in Canadian?"
Kay: "Well, you get what I mean! Osgood is great!"
Kay: "Now that you are retired and back in Sweden, what are you doing?"
Lidstrom: "I am relaxing, doing more fishing and coaching the Swedish IKEA Lingonberry Jam National Hockey Team."
Kay: "Yeah, I hear they're undefeated. That's Sweede!"
Lidstrom: "I hear they're called The Swedish House Mafia in the States!"
Kay: "Yeah, they're jammin'!"
And so is the NHL.... (Hope to see you soon!)
Copyright Steve Kay 2012