NHL NEWS (finally I can say that again!): Zetterberg new Wings Captain; Holmstrom to retire.

Tomas Holmstrom

Tomas Holmstrom

Courtesy of the great hockey blog Puck Daddy, the Detroit Red Wings are the first team since the end of the lockout with some real hockey news to report.  Firstly, the team has announced that the captain’s “C” will be sewn onto the jersey of veteran star forward Henrik Zetterberg this season, following the retirement of NHL legend and former Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

Zetterberg has played his entire NHL career – 668 games so far – for the Wings, scoring 252 goals and 624 points.  Not bad for a 210th Overall Draft Pick in 1999, who’s rookie season of 22 goal saw him nominated for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.  He’s had four 20+ goal seasons, three 30+ goal seasons, and a career high 43 goals in 2007/08, the same year as he also had a career high 92 points.  “Hank” has been cited as a model NHL player, with him and team-mate and fellow superstar Pavel Datsyuk leading the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008 – Zetterberg scored the Cup-winning goal and won the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP.  He’s also an excellent two-way forward, following in the tradition of Red Wing star players being highly competent at both ends of the ice, having finished as runner-up to Datsyuk for the Selke Trophy in 2008.  That year also saw him named to the 2nd All-Star Team.

An excellent choice for carrying on the legacy of brilliant Red Wings captains.  He now faces the responsibility of leading a Detroit team entering a period of uncertainty, best of luck to him.

That period of uncertainty just became all the more unclear, thanks to the report that long-time Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom has opted to retire from the NHL, rather than play the shortened season.  Holmstrom defied the odds to become a quality goal-scorer at the highest level on one of the best teams of the last two decades.  Drafted 257th Overall in 1994, Holmstrom was an extreme longshot, but his hardnosed style and penchant for standing in front of the opposing net to score goals off rebounds and loose pucks soon found him plying his trade in the NHL, playing his first NHL games in 1996.  His style, very similar to that of Ryan Smyth of the Edmonton Oilers, has earned him much respect – even if he does take some criticism for his poor skating ability!  As a Wing, he has scored 243 goals and 530 points, whilst becoming just the 6th Red Wing player to play 1000 games for the storied franchise.  That includes four 20+ goal seasons and a career high 30 goal season in 2006/07.  He won 4 Stanley Cups with Detroit, and was the last remaining player still playing for the team that played on the 1997 and 1998 Cup-winning teams.  He was also a prominent player for his national team, playing in two Olympic Games, one World Championship and one World Cup for Sweden, scoring 6 games and 11 points in 22 international games, whilst winning Olympic Gold with the team in 2006.

A pretty unique player who brought so much to the Red Wings and to the NHL, “Homer” will be missed by all NHL fans.  Best of luck to him in the next stage of his life.

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