Lidström enjoying retirement
He is the perfect retiree now, happy at home limiting his hockey to skating with teenagers. And that suits Nicklas Lidström just fine.
“I miss playing and being part of it,” Lidström said, “but I also know it was my time to leave the game. But it’s always something I’ll miss.”
Lidstrom said he gets his hockey fix at home in Vasteras, Sweden, where he gets back on skates three to four times a week with the kids. "As an assistant coach with my 13-year-old. That’s the level of hockey that I’m part of now.”
He said retirement has been treating him really well. “(It) has been fun, especially spending a lot more time with my family and having a chance to be there when the kids have their activities, their hockey."
During 20 seasons with the Wings, Lidström, 43, won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy. His impact went beyond the ice: He was so professional, so even-tempered and so polite that he earned the nickname “the perfect human.”
“He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever been around and one of the greatest players I’ve ever had an opportunity to witness,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Be humble. Do things with poise every day. Choose your attitude right every day. Do everything right, every day. That’s what he does.”
Lidström will be in Detroit to play in the Dec. 31 Winter Festival alumni games between the Wings and Toronto at Comerica Park, leading up to the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. “I’m looking forward to seeing some of the guys I haven’t seen in a long time and played with back in the ’90s,” he said.

Hamrén coy about future
Sweden men’s football coach Erik Hamren said it was too soon to consider his future after the Swedes lost their World Cup playoff to Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick of second-half goals during the Nov. 19 qualifier in Solna gave Portugal a 4-2 aggregate win and a place in next year's tournament in Brazil.
Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored twice, said he was "very positive" about continuing to represent the national team but Hamren was more circumspect about his plans.
"Today it's too early to talk about that, I'm just too disappointed," said Hamren, whose contract is due to expire at the end of 2013. "I just want to go to bed and stay there. But we'll have that discussion in a short while. It's a fantastic job, but we'll see."
Hamren told reporters directly after the painful defeat that he had "a mutual interest" with the Swedish FA in discussing an extension to his contract despite failing to reach the finals.
From the moment Europe's World Cup qualifying draw was made, it was an uphill task for Sweden whose group included Germany, Austria and Ireland.
After securing second place in their final Group C fixture with a home win against Austria, Sweden was then drawn in a two-legged playoff against a Portugal side boasting Ronaldo in the form of his life.
With Norway, Denmark and Finland failing to get out of their groups and Sweden and Iceland falling in the playoffs, there will be no Nordic representation at the 2014 World Cup.
Hamren believes Sweden needs to have more children playing football in the future.
"If you look at Portugal, football is the biggest thing, and it is in Sweden too, but you have competition from ice hockey and so on," he said. "We have a lot of computers and so on—we need the kids to be out and playing. I think you have to accept that in the smaller countries, and in the climate we live in, it goes up and down. Sometimes you have a really strong squad of players, sometimes not. The bigger football countries produce players regularly."


Färjestad set to make history
Karlstad-based Färjestad is ready to become the first Swedish Hockey League team to play in North America when the nine-time Swedish champions make an exhibition tour in February. The Wolfpack are to take part in the American Hockey League All-Star Classic St. John's, Newfoundland, Feb. 11-12, before traveling to Toronto for a game with AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
"This game will serve as a great experience for all of our players, especially our young prospects who have recently turned pro," said Dave Poulin, vice president of Hockey Operations, Toronto Maple Leafs and general manager, Toronto Marlies. "We're thrilled to host a game of this magnitude and look forward to providing an exciting atmosphere and a competitive game for our fans at Ricoh Coliseum."
Färjestad BK will be the first Swedish Hockey League club ever to compete in North America. Färjestad, led by team CEO Håkan Loob, is one of the most successful franchises in all of European hockey, playing in 19 league finals and winning nine Swedish league championships, including four since 2002.
"To come and play the Marlies in Toronto will be great," said Loob. "Toronto has been the 'hockey town' of the world for most Swedes since Börje Salming's days in the early '70s. We are very excited to represent the SHL in the All-Star Classic and then against one of the AHL's top teams."
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today's NHL players are American Hockey League graduates.

Trophy? He don’t need no stinkin’ trophy
Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he's the best player in the world whether or not he wins the Ballon d'Or. FIFA awards the prize to the top player in the world, as decided by a panel of experts. Ibrahimovic has been in scintillating form this year for Paris Saint Germain and is on the shortlist for the Player of the Year award alongside the likes of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery.
He says he doesn't need to be named the best player in the world to know he is the top player on the planet.
The winner is revealed in January.