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article imageWill a European Become The First Stanley Cup Captain?

By Carolyn E. Price     May 27, 2008 in Sports
The Stanley Cup has been awarded exclusively to an NHL team since 1926 and 80 years since then, a team captain's name has been etched onto one of its silver rings. This year, for the first time, people may well be saying "How Swede It Is!"
The Stanley Cup is the oldest sports trophy in North America history to be competed for by professional athletes. It was first awarded on March 17, 1893 to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) hockey club. Now, all these years later, the Pittsburgh Penguins (representing the NHL's Eastern Conference) and the Detroit Red Wings (the Western Conference champions) are duking it out for the privilege of hoisting the Cup for all the world to see and to bask in the glory of winning the Holy Grail.
In 1950, Ted Lindsay (coincidentally enough, the Captain of the Detroit Red Wings) became the first Stanley Cup winning Captain to hoist the Cup up over his head and skate a victory lap around the rink. This year, for the first time in it's storied one hundred and fifteen year history, a European may be the the one to make that first victorious lap.
Swedish defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom (captain of the Detroit Red Wings) is now two wins away from attaining the honor of being the first European to captain an NHL team to the Stanley Cup. On Monday night, the Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-0. The high flying Penguins have yet to score a goal this series. In fact they've gone almost one hundred and thirty six minutes without scoring. (The last goal they [ever] scored was during game 5 against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 18th, at the 4:03 mark of the third period.)
If Detroit wins this final, it will not be the first time that Lidstrom's name is etched upon Lord Stanley's Mug; he's won it three times before. But for each of those wins, Stevie Yzerman was his team's Captain. Stevie Y was bestowed the honor of the "C" at the tender age of 21-years-old and twenty years later when Yzerman retired in 2006 (whereupon he became the longest serving Captain on any professional sports team in North American history) Lidstrom, at 38 years old, succeeded him as Captain of the Detroit Red Wings. In a somewhat interesting twist, Lidstrom's counterpart on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sydney Crosby, is, at age 20, the youngest serving Captain to have played in a Stanley Cup Final.
It is only fitting that a European hockey player of Lidstrom's stature be the first to potentially Captain a team to the Cup. His accomplishments include the following: he won Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002; while representing the country of his birth, Sweden, he's won Gold medals at the Olympics (2006) and the World Championships (1991); five times he's won the Norris Trophy, an honor awarded to the NHL's top defenceman (in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007); and he also won the Conn Smythe trophy (awarded to the player deemed to be the most valuable to his team during the playoff run up to the Stanley Cup) in 2002.
If Detroit wins this series, this will not be Lidstrom's "first European" honor. He was the first European player to win the Norris Trophy and he was also the first European to win the Conn Smythe.
Will we be saying How Swede It Is or can the Young Guns rebound from an 0-and-2 start in these Stanley Cup Finals and win it all?
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