The four-time Stanley Cup champion made it official Tuesday, announcing his retirement from the NHL.
"After 15 seasons, four Stanley Cups, Olympic championship and a Swedish league championship, millions of memories, I'm announcing my retirement from the Detroit Red Wings," Holmstrom said. "It wasn't an easy decision to make, but it was the right one."
After 15 years, Tomas Holmstrom has left his office for the final time. The four-time Cup champion announced his retirement from the NHL on Tuesday. (Photo: Getty Images)
Holmstrom had 24 points in 74 games last season, and a goal and an assist in five Stanley Cup Playoff games, but said he knew last season that his career most likely was going to end when the Red Wings' season did.
"I maybe had a feeling even playing last year," said Holmstrom, who will turn 40 on Wednesday. "The body was saying. … You wake up in the morning, you're stumbling to the bathroom, it takes forever to get the body going. You can tell you're taking a beating. After a while that wears on you."
And no one took a beating like Holmstrom, who turned the area just in front of the goal crease into his personal office. In his prime, Holmstrom was a net-front presence like no other, willingly trading cross checks to his back for the chance to tip in shots or be first on rebounds.
"He took it to an art form," Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi told the team's website. "There are guys that can stand in front of the net and screen, but there aren't guys that can actually tip 100 mile per hour slap shots coming from every angle. He just took it to a whole new level."
"Homer [Holmstrom] was a star at what he did," added Wings coach Mike Babcock. "The best in the National Hockey League, in my opinion."
All those cross-checks, hacks and whacks led to injuries to his back and knees, but Holmstrom still managed to keep going.
"He didn't feel pain. He couldn't feel pain," team captain Henrik Zetterberg told the team's website. "Especially back when the rules were different. It was a free-for-all on him every game, night in and night out. It's amazing that he could keep his body together for this long."
Holmstrom, though, wouldn't change a thing.
"The body was saying. … You wake up in the morning, you're stumbling to the bathroom, it takes forever to get the body going. You can tell you're taking a beating. After a while that wears on you." -- Tomas Holmstrom
"People think I was crazy taking all those cross-checks to my neck, my head … [but] I had the greatest job in the world," he said. "Now it's time to move on."
Holmstrom is one of six players in team history to skate in 1,000 games for the Red Wings (1,026). In 15 seasons -- all with the Red Wings -- he had 243 goals and 530 points, ranking him 11th and 13th, respectively, in team history. He had at least 10 power-play goals seven times in 15 seasons, and his 122 power-play goals are third on the team's all-time list.
He's also the last of the five players who won championships with the Wings in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 to retire, following Lidstrom, Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
In international play, the native of Pitea, Sweden, represented his country twice at the Olympics, including a goal and three assists in eight games to help Sweden win the gold medal in 2006. He also helped Lulea win a Swedish Elite League title in 1996.
Not bad for a 1994 10th-round draft pick -- the 257th player selected.
"When you think about Homer, I think about him in his office in the blue paint, doing his thing," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "Aggravating the goaltender, aggravating the other team's defensemen, drawing a crowd so our other guys could do their thing. He was fearless, went to all the hard areas, paid the price night after night after night. He has a huge heart -- he's all heart. A great teammate."