TROY – Tomas Holmstrom has left a unique mark on the game.
What people will remember was his ability to setup shop in front of the opposing goalie to redirect 100-mile per hour slap shots coming all while taking a beating from defensemen trying to clear a path.
“He took it to an art form,” Todd Bertuzzi said Tuesday after skating with a few teammates at the Troy Sports Center. “There are guys that can stand in front of the net and screen, but there are guys that can actually tip slap shots coming for every angle. He just took it to a whole new level. I can see young kids mimicking themselves after Homer.”
Holmstrom, who turns 40 on Jan. 23, informed the Wings of his intentions to retire a while ago. An official announcement should come before the start of the regular season.
“He’s just a good dude, great guy and great teammate,” Bertuzzi added. “If you can hand one compliment out he was an outstanding teammate. He never complained. He always went out there and played probably the hardest 1,000 games ever played.”
Last season, Holmstrom became just the sixth player in a Wings uniform to play in 1,000 games, doing so living around the blue paint of the goal crease since joining the team.
“He always took a beating in front of the net,” Darren Helm said. “He did a good job doing that. He’s a tough player. You just watch him and see what it takes to get those greasy goals. He was really good at it. Sometimes you have to take that beating, like he did. It’s worth it in the end.”
Holmstrom, who was a 10th round pick in 1994 by the Wings, ends his 15-year career playing in 1,026 games with 243 goals and 287 assists. He finished with 122 goals on the power play, which ranks him third in franchise history behind Steve Yzerman (202) and Nicklas Lidstrom (132).
He also had a number of goals disallowed by referees due to rulings of goalie interference or being in the crease.
His retirement seemed inevitable after the Wings added three forwards – Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Damien Brunner – this offseason. Management also wants to give rookie Gustav Nyquist a shot this season.
Then it almost seemed official when Samuelsson was given Holmstrom’s stall in September during informal skates at Joe Louis Arena.
“Homer will be missed for sure, especially in the dressing room,” Samuelsson said. “His one-liners are hard to beat. Everybody thinks he’s hilarious.”
Holmstrom saw his minutes drop over the last few seasons, but his contributions on the power play were still valuable.
He’s 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, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
There has been no date for a press conference announced, but it’s likely to take place before the season.