DETROIT – Now that Nicklas Lidstrom retired Thursday, the next obvious question is what will his friend and teammate for the past 15 seasons do?
Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom have spend much of the last month playing golf and tennis together, generally enjoying the off-season and each other’s company while contemplating their futures.
However, one thing is abundantly certain: if Holmstrom doesn’t re-sign with the Red Wings he’ll walk away from the game like his buddy did this week.
“No, I’ll never go anywhere else, I’d rather retire before that,” said Holmstrom, who has played in 1,026 games with the Wings.
Holmstrom’s career has been filled with years of pain that he carries around in both knees, something that he’s learned to deal with since his playing days in Sweden. He had two series of Synvisc injections last season meant to lubricate and cushion his knee joints.
Yet, even in the offseason he has is days where he must cope with the pain and discomfort of grinding knee joints, while giving deliberate thought to his playing future.
On Thursday, Lidstrom said that he no longer had the energy and motivation to put his body through the rigors of off-season training that is paramount to preparing for a long and grueling NHL season.
Holmstrom finds himself battling a similar dilemma.
“Some days it feels like yes, some days it feels like no,” Holmstrom said about retiring. “It’s achy and painful. I don’t take painkillers to hide the arthritis. … We’ll see if it works out. I’ll figure it out soon.”
Holmstrom has been one of the league’s all-time best net-front players, but there’s no escaping the fact that his playing time has diminished in recent seasons. And with good young forwards in the pipeline – like Gustav Nyquist, Cory Emmerton and Tomas Tatar – the return of Patrick Eaves, and any likely free agency acquisitions, then Holmstrom’s days could be numbered.
Still, general manager Ken Holland will meet with the 39-year-old forward prior to the NHL draft later this month.
He’s made it known on several occasions that the lack of playing time means the joints in his arthritic knees take longer to warm-up when he’s sitting on the bench for long stretches. But like Lidstrom, who he drove with to the rink each and every day, the pending decision is weighing on Holmstrom.
“It’s probably coming soon,” he said. “I have to figure it out and I really don’t know right now. I go back and forth and try to figure out my body.”
Regardless of what the final outcome is for his future, playing alongside his friend and teammate for so long, winning four Stanley Cups, has been a tremendous ride, Holmstrom said.
“It’s been so much fun, it’s a sad day, but he’s had a great career and he’s played against all of the best players for 20 years, but it’s come to an end,” Holmstrom said. “Detroit has been fortunate to have him here, and everyone is fortunate that he put on the Red Wings jersey for 20 years.”
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