Holmstrom readies for 1,000-game milestone

DETROIT – On Friday, Tomas Holmstrom will enter an exclusive group in the NHL when he plays in his 1,000th game with the Detroit Red Wings.

Holmstrom will become just the 47th player in league history to reach that number with the same club.

“You really don’t think that much about it,” Holmstrom said after the Wings’ morning skate at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night. “It’s 80 games, then 40 games and now two games then you start thinking about it.

“Wow, 1,000 regular season games,” Holmstrom continued. “It’s a big honor to put on that Red Wings jersey. I’m fortunate. It’s been a great run and has been so much fun. Time goes by so fast. There are 28 games left and it’s going to hit you in the face and then playoffs.”

He’ll be the sixth Wing to do so, joining fellow teammate Nicklas Lidstrom and former teammate Kris Draper.

“It’s just his will and determination, battling through injuries and still playing at a high level,” said Lidstrom, who on the same night will tie Alex Delvecchio for most games played for Detroit with 1,549. “He wasn’t considered a great skater when he came here, but he scored 30 goals (2006-07) and he’s scored 20 goals consistently for us.

“He has bad knees since he came here,” Lidstrom added. “He’s been able to battle through and overcome it. Some nights you know he’s in pain. You don’t know how much it hurts, but he battles through game in and game out. He’s a hard worker. He earns his spot whether it’s on the power play or in our lineup.”

Holmstrom, who played in his 47th game of the season Wednesday, would have reached the milestone against the Oilers, but he had a bad reaction following injections in his knees in Calgary last week.

He had a Synvisc injection, which lasts between 5-6 months, before training camp and had another during the All-Star break.

“What a true warrior,” said Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth, who played in his 1,123rd career game Wednesday. “He’s a competitor. He’s a winner … four Stanley Cups. I’m sure his body aches a lot after games. I know that from experience, too.

“He’s one of the best, if not the best, in my opinion. I watched him over the years, and I’ve picked up a few things, and maybe he picked up a few things from myself,” Smyth continued. “I have tremendous respect for him.”

Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier is also expected to reach the mark this year sometime.

“It’s impressive,” Johan Franzen said. “You’ve got a guy like (Ray) Whitney two nights ago, he’s got 1,200 games but that’s the opposite kind of games that Homer gets. It’s impressive the way he’s been able to play the way he has for so many games.”

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