Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 11/17/14

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 5: Tomas Holmstrom #96 of the Detroit Red Wings skates during the third period against the New Jersey Devils on December 5, 2009 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
What will you remember most about Detroit Red Wings’ forward Tomas Holmstrom, a man who’s reportedly decided that he’s ready to hang up the skates? For some, it will be how he seemed to perpetually wear a smile at all times, no matter what was going on during games. Others will always laugh and recall his very unique accent, perhaps the best personification of “swinglish,” play-by-play man Ken Daniels’ favorite term for a blend of Swedish and English. Of course, for most, there was also the fact he stood parked in front of the net, always remaining in the right place at the right time for rebounds and tipping shots. During his 15 year career, nobody did that better than Holmstrom, drawing both proper amounts of ire and praise from opposing players, fans and even referees. I can remember exactly where I was when that legacy began for me. It was fifth grade in the spring of 1998. The Red Wings were trying to repeat as champions, and like most youngsters in Detroit, I was captivated by the chase for the cup. In a highly anticipated conference final clash with the Dallas Stars, I disticntly remember seeing this weird, oversized guy standing in front of the net all the time. I continually wondered how he could do that and not get killed every shift, either by a shot or an angry member of the opposition. Then, out of nowhere, Stars’ goalie Ed Belfour took his stick and, ahem, tapped Holmstrom in a certain nether region. Ouch. Holmstrom, despite the cowardly act, didn’t back down. I was both shocked and impressed. Instead of letting that one play ruin him and never going back to his office, Holmstrom continued to pester goalies and hone his shot tipping, rebound corralling craft. That love tap from Belfour, one of hockey’s most volatile personalities, likely helped Holmstrom become who he was for the next 14 years. Though the NHL tried desperately to crack down in multiple ways, including absurd rule changes regarding skates in the goal paint and goalie contact, Holmstrom always found a way around the rule of the day to impact the game. On power plays, there was nobody better to have in your corner. Given his size and hands, coaches knew from day one that Holmstrom was never going to be a burner on the ice, nor was he going to be a sniper on the wing. Give him credit for creating a role for himself and embracing it, doing what he had to do to become an asset to the team. It ended up helping the Red Wings win four championships and in the process, also vaulted Holmstrom to household name status in hockey. The myth of the perpetually soft European player died with every hit Holmstrom endured. Youngsters should take notice. There’s not enough of that selfless attitude in sports anymore, nor is there enough toughness shown like Holmstrom displayed night in and night out ever since Belfour smacked him in 1998. As an athlete, one play can always define you, both positively and negatively. Holmstrom used his infamous moment in the sun to become somebody and craft an image. That image stood the test of time. Last February, after “Homer” had become just the sixth Red Wing to complete his 1,000th NHL game (and got a broken nose in the process), he showed his indifference to such trivial matters as pain and discomfort in an interview after practice, complete with his newly swollen nose bulging. “Of course it’s gonna happen in my 1,000th game,” he said with a laugh, just before shrugging off the notion that he’d ever wear a shield. “I’m sure I’ll remember it.” Holmstrom was the toughest guy on the ice to ever knock out, no matter where or how he was getting hit. That’s exactly how we’ll always remember him. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kentucky remains unbeaten after thrilling win over ND

John Calipari blasted for postgame interview

WATCH: MJ, Tom Brady play pickup game in Bahamas

WATCH: Wrong national anthem played for El Salvador

WATCH: Russell Wilson smashes HR in Rangers BP

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Fox: Jay Cutler will have to earn starting QB job

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

Kurt Warner is helping to turn around Colin Kaepernick

Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

Saints love TE Josh Hill following Jimmy Graham trade

Darren Sproles' role is growing for the Eagles

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Mariners prospect dies from boat accident injuries

T.J. Ford sends heartfelt tweet about Rick Barnes

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

Winnipeg Jets prospect had a rough night on the ice

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

WWE unveils Ultimate Warrior statue

WATCH: Tom Brady jumps off tall cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Dominique Wilkins in HORSE

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.