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Holmstrom is Masterton nominee

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 3:00 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Holmstrom is Masterton nominee
Tomas Holmstrom has made the front of the net his office for more than 1,000 games in 15 NHL seasons. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROITTomas Holmstrom brought more than a worthy nickname to Hockeytown when he arrived from Sweden in 1996.

“He's been part of the team for a long time, his perseverance is second to none,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We know what he's been going through with his bad knees. His knees weren't the best when he got here 15 years ago.”

Lidstrom, who has been a teammate and close friend through four Stanley Cup titles, sees why the Detroit chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association has selected Holmstrom as its candidate for this season’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

“The way he's battling through injuries and able to come back and play, we know the beating he's been taking in front of the net and in the offensive zone, but he keeps getting up there and getting back in there,” Lidstrom said. “He's got so much determination and will to get back in there again. You can tell with his bad knees that he's not giving up at all.”

The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication. The winner is selected by the PHWA and will be announced at the NHL Award Show in Las Vegas on June 20.

The trophy is often awarded to a player who has come back from career- or even life-threatening illness or injury. Last year’s award went to Philadelphia’s Ian Laperriere, who was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome after he was struck in the face by a puck during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. And while Laperriere hasn’t return to the game, he continues to serve the Flyers as a mentor to the younger players in the organization.

“That's a big honor, for sure,” Holmstrom said after learning of his nomination last Friday. “Makes me really happy; I'm doing something right out there.”

Two Red Wings – defenseman Brad Park (1983-84) and center Steve Yzerman (2002-03) – are past recipients of the award named for former Minnesota North Stars center Bill Masterton, whose 1968 death was the result of a head injury suffered in an NHL game.
Holmstrom, who earned the name Demolition Man for his destructive playing style back home in Sweden, became only the sixth player in Wings’ history to reach the 1,000 games played plateau this season, an incredible milestone for a player, who consistently takes his share of physical abuse in front of the opposition’s goal crease.

“That's the toughest part, when you have to play hurt and go through all that,” he said. “But when you play a long time, I'm sure all the guys are going to go through that sooner or later. That's how it is. If you can play and you're really banged up, you do it.”

And though he’s only scored 240 goals in 1,019 games, Holmstrom should be heralded for the multitude of other goals scored by teammates through his hard work and battles in front of the net.

“I don't have the best skills but I've been working on it a lot, try to get better skating,” he said. “Get (a) better all-around game to stay in the league and try to get better around the net. You always want to do better and better. That's a big part of it.
“You know there's always someone who wants to take your spot, someone who wants to beat you, just try to get better all the time.”

Despite the numerous injuries that he has endured over the years, not to mention the surgeries and countless injections, Holmstrom plays the net-front position with a flare, which has yet to be masterfully duplicated.

Just this season alone, he has had Synvisc injections, which lasts between 5-6 months, on two separate occasions – before training camp and during the January All-Star break.

“It's fun to see guys popping up, see guys going to the net and staying around the net and in front of the goalie and start doing that and kids coming up and say, ‘I play like you Homer, I play in front of the net. I scored two goals the other night, I tipped them in,’ ” Holmstrom said. “We all can't be like Pavel (Datsyuk) and Hank (Zetterberg); we got to have some guys doing the grind job around the net.”

Ryan Smyth is a player who often draws comparisons to Holmstrom’s aggravating style, but he likes Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist.

“His first couple of years (he) tried to play my style of game and he's doing a good job,” Holmstrom said. “He's a better skater, and got a good shot, too, and doesn't hesitate to go to the net. It's always fun when somebody comes up and gives you credit.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80