Detroit Red Wings legend Tomas Holstrom officially retired on Tuesday afternoon.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5:16 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
At his press conference, the 40-year-old Holstrom made it clear that he was making the correct decision (via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press):
"After millions of memories, I'm here today to announce my retirement from Detroit Red Wings," Holmstrom said. "It wasn't easy decision to make, but it was the right one.
"I had a great job."
General manager Ken Holland summed up Holstrom's career:
"It's been an incredible career Tomas has put together. He's played the fourth-most playoff games in the franchise. Thirteenth-most points in a Red Wings uniform. Really, an incredible career.
"I think he's all heart."
Coach Mike Babcock had more kind words for the former superstar:
"He competed to get to his spot, was a great, great, great teammate, great man," coach Mike Babcock said. "Very, very, ultra-competitive. All the best players are ultra-competitive. And found a way to win four Stanley Cup championships and represent his country. Play I don't know how many games. Pretty impressive."
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UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 4:44 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
Holstrom held a press conference on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena to announce his decision (via CBS Sports' Brian Stubits):
Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom made the long-anticipated announcement on Tuesday afternoon that he's hanging up his skates. Holmstrom officially retired with a press conference at Joe Louis Arena.
Holmstrom was a free agent after last season and considered his options for a while before the lockout was put into place, although the options never seemed to be more than returning to the Wings or retiring. The longer it went on the clearer it seemed what his decision would be, and that was hanging them up.
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Holmstrom’s willingness to go where no one else would go—the front of the net—earned him a distinguished career with the Red Wings, but one that he’s ready to call over. He informed the club this afternoon that he’s done playing. The announcement will be made formal later this week, a person familiar with the situation told the Free Press.
The news comes almost directly on the heels of a deal between the NHL and the Players' Union that ended the league's prolonged lockout.
Holstrom, who turns 40 in 17 short days, will be best remembered for his trademark grit and toughness. Even in a sport renowned for its physical contact, he stood out as a man among men—especially at the forward position.
He made a living in front of the net, wreaking having on the eye-line of opposing goaltenders.
"He loves to win, he loves to compete, he loves to wear you out," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock after a Game 2 victory over Columbus in 2009. "I think there's (defensemen) out there who think they might actually get to him. That's just not possible."
Even at his advanced age, and even with his limited athletic ability, Holmstrom maintained productivity the past few years. He logged 70-plus games in each of the past two seasons and registered 45 points—the third-best total of his career—the season prior to that.
He finishes with career totals of 530 points (243 goals, 287 assists) in the regular season and 97 points (46 goals, 51 assists) in the playoffs. But Holmstrom, the consummate team player, is more accurately defined by his four Stanley Cup titles and the gold medal he won with Team Sweden at the Turin Olympics.
"He never played a lot of minutes like some guys; he scrapped for his ice time," said former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman (per St. James). "That’s the thing I like the best about him; he never complained. He was a terrific player because he accepted his role."
For the first time in a long time, Detroit must now find a new player to fill that role.