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Tomas Holmstrom Back for Two Years

That sound you heard when the Red Wings announced a two-year deal with Tomas Holmstrom was the goalies for the other twenty-nine teams groaning in frustration.  I like to imagine that it’s become almost a reflex for them over the years.  At least in my head, the mere sight of his name whether in print or on the back of his jersey is enough to inspire nervous tics and irrational fits of anger.  That’s what the man we affectionately call Homer does to opposing goalies.  His job description forces him to battle night in and night out for position at the top of the crease, often taking absurd amounts of abuse for his troubles.  During each game, opposing goalies get intimately acquainted with his backside.  For the most part, they get the wrong end of the deal.  (No?  Too punny?  Cut me some slack—it’s Friday.)  He’s coming back to the Wings for two more years at a cap hit of $1.85 million.  It’s a great number cap-wise, and I once again find myself ecstatic at the re-signing of another Swedish Wing.

During these last few weeks, it’s been all the rage to anoint Dustin Byfuglien as the “next Tomas Holmstrom.”  However, the people making those comparisons are missing a couple of key points.  First among them is the fact that Homer is still the best in the world at what he does.  He’s in a class of his own in terms of being a net-front presence.  Byfuglien’s a big body and he’s definitely difficult to move when he gets position in front of the goaltender, but Homer can be just as stubborn when he’s setting up a screen.  I wish someone kept track of all of the “honorary assists” he’s picked up over the years on goals that would never have gone in the net if the goalie had had a chance to see the shot.  He’s turned the ability to tip pucks into an art form.  It’s a beautiful thing to see him get his stick on a shot from the point and deflect it into the net.  It’s no accident when he manages to do this.  He practices it after every skate.  Despite all the abuse he takes at the hands of opposing defensemen (he wears extra padding on his back and legs to protect from crosschecks and slashes), he rarely retaliates.

After Nick Lidstrom, signing Homer was the next priority for the Wings’ braintrust.  Coming into this season, there were a lot of questions about his ability to perform.  His last couple of seasons had been marred by injuries and a lot of fans weren’t sure if he could still hack it.  Homer responded by putting up 45 points in the regular season, placing him fourth behind only Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Lidstrom.  His twenty-five goals ranked second on the team.  He’s still an invaluable part of the team’s powerplay, and occupies a spot on the top line.  We Wings fans (and his teammates) like to mock him, but I promise that we do it out of love.  If he can stay healthy for the next two years, this is going to turn out to be a great deal for the team.

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