Reports: Nicklas Lidstrom to announce retirement at Thursday press conference

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Lidstrom has spent his entire NHL career with the Wings. (Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings have a press conference schedule for Thursday morning at 11 a.m. Here is what the description from the team says about the event:

The Detroit Red Wings have scheduled a press conference for Thursday, May 31, 2012, beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET in the C.C. Olympia Club at Joe Louis Arena. Participants at tomorrow's press conference will include Red Wings Executive Vice President & General Manager Ken Holland and team captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

Uh oh. That likely means only one thing: The great Nicklas Lidstrom is set to retire. To be clear, that hasn't been announced or reported yet, but why else would the Red Wings call a presser with Lidstrom? Especially during the Final?

It's very, very rare when players have press conferences to announce they signed an extension. It's just not how it works. Last year, for example, when Lidstrom signed up for another year, a conference call with the media was held.

So the immediate speculation was retirement. It was reported by several outlets a shortwhile later, first by Aaron Ward -- a former teammate of Lidstrom's -- of TSN.

Dun, dun, dunnnnnn.

All signs point toward this indeed being the end of the line for Lidstrom, one of the best defensemen the game has ever seen. If Lidstrom does retire now, then it's going to overshadow the Stanley Cup Final a bit. That's what makes the timing a little odd, can't think that would make Gary Bettman all that happy, not that many will care.

However, on that same front, this comes at as good of a time as any during the Final, the morning after Game 1 when there is set to be 48 hours before Game 2 on Saturday. It would give the story enough time to cool back down before the series resumed.

Speaking for myself, I expected Lidstrom to be back for another season, especially with the Winter Classic in Michigan next year. If this is in fact it, then it's a sad day for the NHL. They don't get much better in every regard than Lidstrom.

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