It’s an odd thought to some, perhaps. Especially if someone isn’t familiar with Tomas Holmstrom outside of cursing him while the long time Wing sets up in front of their favorite squad’s goaltender. Lets say you are a hockey parent and the Red Wings are playing the Canucks in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
Who would you tell your son or daughter to watch? One of the Sedin wonder twins? Obviously their vision and ability
to cycle defenders to death down low while doing weird “twin things” is something that one could make a career off of emulating.
Maybe the kid should keep an eye on Pavel Datsyuk. That wizard of a man that seems to will the puck to stay on his stick during every shift of every game he’s ever played. Ever.
Or what about Nick Lidstrom? That guy has a few good habits, right? Arguably as close to perfect as any player in the League is and has ever been.
But odds are your kid – talented as they may be – just is not a Sedin or a Pav or a Lidstrom. Generations reproduce decades on end to accidentally create hockey minds like those that the aforementioned men have.
So maybe their eyes should fall to someone else to copy. Maybe they should be eye balling number 96 in the Red and White. Because the Hockey Gods know this guy can’t skate save his life. His shot is average at best. But goodness, you put Homer in front of a net and he just gets it.
He figured out that hockey, for him at least, would be about paying a price that no one else would be willing to pay.
He’s another one of Hakan Andersson’s late round gems. 257th overall, for those of you keeping track. The top ten picks that year went like this: Ed Jovanovski, Oleg Tverdovsky, Radek Bonk, Jason Bonsignore, Jeff O’Neil, Ryan Smyth, Jamie Storr, Jason Wiemer, Brett Lindros, and Nolan Baumgartner.
I don’t think it takes a Scott Bowman to see what I am getting at here. At least six of those top ten teams would go back and select Homer with their top-ten pick in ’94.
A few Cups later and Tomas is still a productive member of a Red Wings squad that hasn’t drafted any worse since his draft year. With plenty of grinders just waiting for a shot on the perpetual contenders, he still finds a way to knock pucks into the net and draw power plays for his team.
So the next time you’re watching a game with the young hockey fan in your life, perhaps point out Homer’s hard work in front of the net. Or how he is almost always battling in the corners for lose pucks or an extra inch of ice. You may end up spending more cash for extra pads to protect the kid’s back, but they may also end up as a central cog on one of the NHL’s model franchises.