Holmstrom, originally drafted 257th overall in the (no-longer-existing) 10th round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, has truly revolutionized the game of hockey in terms of getting traffic to the net.
The veteran left wing has mastered the arts of screening goaltenders, taking punishment from goaltenders and defensemen in front of the net, not retaliating against his opponents and, finally, tipping pucks into the net that would have otherwise missed.
This year, Holmstrom has received the Red Wings' nomination for the Bill Masterton Trophy.
Frankly, he is not just deserving of the nomination, but of winning the Masterton Trophy outright.
Holmstrom hasn't missed more than 18 games at any one time in his career, and since the 2000-01 season, he has missed only 131 regular-season games.
Now some readers might have never heard of the Masterton Trophy, so I'll lay it out for you.
The Masterton Trophy is given annually to "the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey."
Still not convinced Holmstrom is the right selection for this trophy? Let's examine the three qualities set out in that example and see how Holmstrom fits each of them.
Ask any player in the NHL if he enjoys enduring the punishment of other players' body checks or the whacking and hacking of goaltenders' sticks when they come close enough to the front of the net. Most likely, the answer will be a simple "no," possibly accompanied by an expression that says to the interviewer, "Are you sure you have your head screwed on properly?"
Tomas Holmstrom, as I mentioned in the first sentence, is, for lack of a better word, unique.
Holmstrom enjoys being the net-front presence and distracting other teams' defensemen and goaltenders.
When Holmstrom goes to "his office," he goes right to the front of the net and sticks his rear in the face of the goaltender.
Holmstrom takes more shoves, slashes and stick jabs in one season than most players take over half of their careers.
Holmstrom isn't the best skater in the world, so his job in front of the net is paramount if he wants to stay in the game. Still want to be an NHL player and do his net-front dirty work?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
The great thing about watching Holmstrom play is that while doing his job of screening goalies, he doesn't retaliate during the play in response to anything that the goaltender or defenseman trying to move Holmstrom does to him.
Holmstrom has just one roughing penalty this year (granted, he does get called for goaltender interference every so often, but some aren't his fault), and he is more than willing just to take punishment for the sake of playing his position in front of the net.
When looking at Holmstrom, the realization of how much punishment he takes in the average game—and how little he responds to it—can boggle the mind.
Holmstrom truly exemplifies the quality of sportsmanship through his play in front of the net, and when he is on the ice in general.
Dedication to Ice Hockey
Above, in the "perseverance" section, I asked you, the reader, if you would want to take on Holmstrom's role in front of the net, and most of you likely said "no"—if not accompanied by an expletive in front of "no."
Holmstrom's lack of skating abilities stems from having bad knees.
Put "Tomas Holmstrom knee injury" into Google and see how many hits you get.
Holmstrom has had multiple injuries over his career that have caused him to miss significant time in each case, and his knees are just the starting point in that regard.
The fact is that Holmstrom still plays at the NHL level at the age of 39, despite getting banged up as much as he has over his 15-season NHL career.
So there you have it. Holmstrom should be the 2012 Masterton Trophy winner. His perseverance and dedication to hockey and sportsmanship are unquestioningly among the best in the NHL. They speak volumes to the career he has had in Detroit and even more so to why he should win the Masterton Trophy.
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