Kris Draper on Tomas Holmstrom: “He kept everyone loose around him”

DETROIT — Tomas Holmstrom didn’t change one bit, keeping it loose and funny as he announced he was retiring after 15 seasons in the NHL.

“You talk about the great players that have been in that Detroit locker room, but there has also been a ton of character in that room as well and Homer was a huge part of that,” long-time teammate Kris Draper said. “No matter what the game was, regular season, playoff, a Game 7, whatever it was Homer, whether he knew it or not always had something to say that broke the tension. You can’t put a price on that.

“He kept everyone loose around him,” Draper continued. “We played in a lot of big games and the way he talked he didn’t even realize it by just throwing stuff that he threw out there. He just loosened up the whole atmosphere and you need that in moments like that. That press conference we lived that for 15 years. It was every day, sometimes twice a day. That was he was so popular amongst his teammates.”

Holmstrom also took a lot of abuse doing his job in front of the opposing goalie every night he played.

“He’s not kidding about the abuse he took,” Draper said. “It was just amazing, especially early in his career because the rules a little different now since the 04-05 season. It would always seem like guys could get away with a little extra on Homer knowing that he was going to take it and stand in there.

“I remember the battles he had with Rob Blake, Chris Pronger and Adam Foote, all those guys and he’d stand right there,” Draper added. “Eddie Belfour, we all remember that, I don’t know how we call it, a knock on the door or whatever you want to call it. He’d flinch, wouldn’t move and then couldn’t wait to get back out there. That was the amazing part he would just do his thing. He knew where to be.”

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