It's the news we all dreaded but were expecting nonetheless. Detroit Red Wings captain and surefire hall of fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced his retirement today at a press conference at Joe Louis Arena. Lidstrom's announcement wraps up a 20-year career that included four Stanley Cups and seven Norris Trophies.

With Red Wings owner Mike Illitch and general manager Ken Holland at his side, Lidstrom revealed that his body wasn't able to repair itself fast enough anymore.

"After 20 seasons I am announcing my retirement," Lidstrom said. "It's painfully obvious to me my strength and energy level are not rebounding quickly enough for me to continue to play. My drive and motivation are not where they need to be."

Lidstrom played all 20 of his NHL seasons wearing a Red Wings jersey, just like the man he replaced as captain of the team when Steve Yzerman retired in 2006. "I never really wanted to leave Detroit," Lidstrom stated. "I always believed in this team and organization."

Lidstrom, who is 42, plans to move back to his homeland of Sweden with his wife Annika and their four sons. The two oldest plan to follow in their father's footsteps and play hockey in Sweden this fall. The 12-time All-Star has always expressed his desire to return to Sweden when his playing days were over.

As the Detroit News points out, this leaves a huge void in defense for Holland to fill. Brad Stuart is an unrestricted free agent who might not re-sign with the Wings. There will be options on the free-agent market and Nashville's Ryan Suter is expected to be on Holland's wish list.

However, replacing an elite player like Nicklas Lidstrom will be a huge challenge - even an impossible one.

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