Larsson cherishes warm-up with Lidstrom
NEWARK, N.J. -- Pre-game warm-ups are so routine for hockey players that rarely, if at all, do they remember them unless someone gets hurt.
Devils rookie defenseman Adam Larsson begs to differ on that point. He will never forget the pre-game warm-ups in Detroit on April 5 for a completely different reason.
It was that night at Joe Louis Arena that Larsson, the 19-year-old Swedish defenseman, got to share the same ice surface as Nicklas Lidstrom, the 42-year-old Swedish icon.
"I remember the whole warm-up," Larsson said Thursday, just a few hours after Lidstrom announced his retirement in Detroit. "I just stand there watching him skate. He's a great player and what he's done is unique."
Larsson's only regret is that he was a healthy scratch against the Red Wings, and now that Lidstrom is retired he will never get the chance to play against him.
"That was a disappointment," he said.
Still, Larsson, who wears No. 5 like Lidstrom but not because of Lidstrom, will never forget watching Lidstrom in warm-ups. It was the first time he had seen the now former Red Wings captain, a four-time Stanley Cup champion and seven-time Norris Trophy winner, in person.
What was he thinking?
"Wow," Larsson said.
"It's everything," he answered. "He's been so huge in Sweden and I hadn't seen him that up close in person."
As a member of Sweden's next generation of NHL defensemen -- along with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman, Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson and David Rundblad, Philadelphia's Erik Gustafsson and the Rangers' Tim Erixon -- Larsson said he does not feel any pressure to try to follow in the giant footsteps left behind by Lidstrom.
It's too much of a challenge to even fathom.
"Hopefully I can get close," he said. "That would be great, but I don't think anyone can do that again.
"To be 41 or 42 and play in the NHL is unique. To stay healthy and be focused every day, that's hard. Hopefully I get to play that long."
Even if he does, he'll never have another pre-game warm-up like the one he had in Detroit on April 5, 2012.
"That was a moment for life for me," Larsson said.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl