FILE - This Dec. 22, 2010, file photo shows Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom lduring the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks, in Detroit. Lidstrom will return to play for the Detroit Red Wings. The team announced the decision Monday, June 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski, File)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Nicklas Lidstrom has been named the NHL's best defenceman for the seventh time in his storied career.
A record-tying eighth Norris Trophy may not be far behind.
Dressed in a dark suit with a navy and red tie, the 41-year-old Red Wings captain accepted his seventh Norris at the NHL awards Wednesday, beating out Boston captain Zdeno Chara and Nashville defenceman Shea Weber.
The award came days after Lidstrom announced he would return for his 20th season with Detroit. He signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings worth US$6.2 million on Monday.
"It feels surreal having reached seven Norrises, especially at this stage in my career," said Lidstrom. "I'm very proud to still be able to play at this level and win another Norris."
Lidstrom's seventh Norris tied Montreal star Doug Harvey, and he now only trails the legendary Bobby Orr's record of eight.
"It gives me some motivation to get ready for next season now having won another Norris," Lidstrom said. "I think it helps going through the off-season workouts."
Lidstrom, who twice has won the award in three consecutive years (from 2000-01 to '02-03 and 2005-06 to '07-08), said he thought one of the other nominees would win this year.
"Chara and Weber had great seasons. I felt like it could be anyone's trophy really," he said.
Lidstrom became the first 40-year-old defenceman to score more than 60 points in a NHL season when he had 62 (16 goals, 46 assists) points in 2011. This season also marked the first time in Lidstrom's career he posted a minus rating, finishing with a minus-2.
Rob Blake of Los Angeles in 1998 was the last player to win the Norris with a minus mark.
As much success as Lidstrom has had with the Norris, he's never been able to capture the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy—losing out again this year when Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis took home the hardware.
"I don't know," Lidstrom said shaking his head, after missing out for the sixth time on the honour given annually for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.
"I think Pavel (Detroit teammate Pavel Datsyuk) taking that fighting major helped me get here. Maybe I should thank him a little bit for getting me here and just being one of the three guys nominated."