Lidstrom meant a lot to Devils' Swedes

NEWARK, N.J. -- Henrik Tallinder thinks Nicklas Lidstrom is the best Swedish player to ever play in the NHL.

“No offense to Peter Forsberg or Mats Sundin,” Tallinder, one of four Swedes on the Devils, said Thursday, the same day Lidstrom announced his retirement, “but in my eyes, he’s the best Swedish player we’ve ever had over here.”

Lidstrom, 42, played 20 seasons in the league, all with the Red Wings. He won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies and one Conn Smythe.

“It’s a sad day for hockey, but it’s been a little bit expected,” Johan Hedberg said. “He’s probably one of if not the best Swedish player to ever play the game ...

“He’s been a great role model for every Swede growing up, myself included. He’s a great person, a great professional and probably someone that doesn’t get the respect he deserves in Sweden.”

Adam Larsson, 19, grew up idolizing Lidstrom and watching him on the country’s national team. Unfortunately, Larsson never got play against his idol in the NHL.

“What he’s done so far is unique, and hopefully I can look back on my career and see that I’ve done something like that,” Larsson said.

Tallinder was impressed that Lidstrom never missed more than 12 games in a season during his career.

“That’s what separates him,” Tallinder said.