Expressen’s Albin Julin and Adam Johansson spoke with several former NHL players regarding Robin Lehner’s accusations that former NHL teams handed out prescription medication on demand, and Nicklas Lidstrom addresses his situation with the Red Wings.
What follows is the pertinent part of Julin and Johansson’s article, roughly translated from Swedish:
Nicklas Lidstrom, one of Sweden’s best NHL players of all time, is not surprised when he hears Lehner’s accusations.
“To some extent I recognize it myself. I only played for one team, so I can only relay to you how it was in Detroit. When I went over to the NHL, it was easier to get such drugs or pills. In recent years, and after I quit playing, it was harder to get it from Detroit’s doctors, but early in my career it was different. If you had sleep problems, then you could get sleeping pills. If you asked for it, you could get toradol, a painkiller. I know that it’s become tougher lately, it’s harder to get a hold of them today,” says Lidstrom.
The 51-year-old, who won 4 Stanley Cup titles with the Detroit Red Wings, was unbelievably almost never injured during his 20 years in the world’s best league.
He missed only 46 of Detroit’s games in both the regular season and playoffs; he’s played in a total of 1,827 of 1,873 games.
During those seasons, Lidstrom, like Lehner, didn’t experience pressure to play through injuries.
“I was not forced. Once, around 2000, I was sick to my stomach and still played. The doctors said it was okay, as long as I wanted to. I was sick the night before, but I got an IV before the game and was able to play. I never went out on the ice with a major injury against my will.”
When you were injured during the career, were you once asked to play through the pain because Detroit wanted you on the ice?
“It happened, but I also wanted to play then. I had a fracture in my foot once, and then I took toradol. When I tied my skate I couldn’t move my foot, so it wasn’t possible to play, but that was my choice.
Have you ever felt pressured to play through pain?
“No, it never happened in Detroit.”
Have you ever suspected that players have ingested illegal drugs at some point in the NHL?
“No, I’ve never experienced that. I haven’t seen anyone take anything that isn’t allowed, but instead, it’s always come from team doctors.”
Has a coach or GM stepped in and said that a specific player should receive a specific treatment, or that a player had to play in a specific game?
“No, I haven’t seen that. On the other hand, it happened several times that doctors stepped in and stopped players who wanted to play in games despite their injuries. Then it was about the players aggravating their problems if they played.”