Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom declared that ex-Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Mario Lemieux was the best competitor he played against during his 20-season career.

"It was all about Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman," the seven-time Norris Trophy winner told the Swedish newspaper Expressen. "Lemieux had an incredible reach and some really good skills with his stick. Gretzky had that too, but he made all the players around him better. Individually, I would say Lemieux was the better player."

Lidstrom is entitled to his opinion and could very well elaborate when he is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November. The 45-year-old Swede served as captain of the Red Wings toward the end of his career until retiring in 2012, finishing with 264 goals and 878 assists in 1,564 games.

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Gretzky remains atop of the NHL heap in career goals (894), assists (1,963) and points (2,857). Lemieux has scored 690 tallies and set up 1,033 more during his 915 games played while Yzerman had 692 goals and 1,063 assists in 1,514 contests.

(h/t: The Score)