DETROIT – Tomas Holmstrom has come to a decision, sort of.
Holmstrom met with Wings general manager Ken Holland on Monday and they’ve decided to wait until July to figure out what direction they’re going to go.
But the veteran winger is leaning towards returning for another season.
“He wants to make sure he’s got energy and passion,” Holland said. “That’s all the things Nick Lidstrom talked about. Right now he’s leaning towards playing. We both want to see what goes on in early July.
“He wants to make sure he’s healthy,” Holland continued. “Right now he’s feeling like he’s playing. Let’s wait until early July.”
A lot of the Wings’ decision on if they’ll bring him back for one more season will be based how well free agency goes once it opens on July 1.
Detroit was in a similar situation with Kirk Maltby in 2010.
Maltby wound up signing a one-year, two-way deal with the team prior to the start of training camp to compete for a roster spot.
Maltby failed to win a spot when camp ended and was placed on waivers. Instead of going to Grand Rapids to play, Maltby decided to retire.
“Let’s get another three weeks of information under our belt,” Holland said. “He’s getting older, it’s getting tougher, but he feels he’s got the drive and the desire.
“Given what’s happened with unrestricted free agents, we’ll try to do some things here in the next three weeks,” Holland continued. “He feels today he wants to play again. Right now his thought was I feel pretty good, I’m thinking of playing. Let’s take a little more time.”
If Holmstrom does retire he would be the last of five Wings to have played on all four of Detroit’s Stanley Cup championship teams since 1997. The other four players on the distinctive list are, Lidstrom, Kris Draper, who retired last season, Maltby and Darren McCarty.
“I go back and forth and try to figure out my body,” Holmstrom said after Lidstrom’s retirement announcement.
Holmstrom, 39, has had countless knee operations in his 15 seasons with Detroit and two hernia surgeries.
“He’s been part of the team for a long time and his perseverance is second to none,” Lidstrom said last season. “We know what he’s been going through with his bad knees. His knees weren’t the best when he got here 15 years ago.
“The way he battles through injuries and able to come back and play,” Lidstrom added. “We know the beating he’s been taking in front of the net and in the offensive zone, but he keeps getting up there and getting back in there. He’s got so much determination and will to get back in there again. You can tell with his bad knees that he’s not giving up at all. It shows a lot about his character.”
He was drafted 257th overall by Detroit in the 1994 NHL Entry draft. At the time scouts said Holmstrom was too slow and too skinny to make in the league.
“If you can’t skate, you can’t play,” Holmstrom said. “I know I don’t have the best skills but I’ve been working on it a lot, try to get better skating, a better shot, pretty much get a better all-around game to stay in the league and try to get better around the net. You always want to do better and better. That’s a big part of it. You know there’s always someone who wants to take your spot, someone who wants to beat you, just try to get better all the time.”
Last season, Holmstrom played in his 1,000th game, becoming just the sixth player in a Wings uniform to do so. He has made a living around the blue paint of the goal crease since joining the team in the fall of 1996.
Holmstrom has seen his minutes drop, but his contributions on the power play are still valuable.
“It’s been a tough year, playing most of the time on the fourth line and limited ice time,” Holmstrom said. “I just try to do the best I can. It’s tough when you don’t get the ice time, you can’t get the momentum going. The end goal is not to get me ice time, the end goal is to win the Stanley Cup.”