uspw_6194604All those cross-checks to the back and pucks to the head have finally added up. Detroit Red Wings forward and front-of-the-net stalwart Tomas Holmstrom has officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League.

After 15 seasons with the Red Wings, the Swedish winger announced his retirement before his club’s home opener against the Dallas Stars and ahead of his 40th birthday on Wednesday.

“Some people may think I’ve been crazy all those years, taking thousands of cross-checkings to my neck, to my head, to my back,” Holmstrom said. “Then having my teammates shooting hundred-mile-an-hour pucks at me.”

Holmstrom has helped the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups over the years (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008) and took home an Olympic gold medal in 2006 with the Swedes.

“It’s been a long career,” he said. “I could maybe play one more year, play 48 games, but I want to do something else, too. I’m going to play tennis. I’m going to do so much other stuff.”

Holmstrom was first discovered by Swedish amateur scout Håkan Andersson. He was picked for a national team selection camp in 1993, but missed the cut. The next season, he was the team’s best player and wound up being drafted by the Red Wings 257th overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

Holmstrom’s best season came in 2005-2006 when he notched 59 points in 81 games. In 180 playoff games, he managed 97 points.

“It’s been a wonderful journey and I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “I had the greatest job in the world. Now it’s time to move on.”

“Tomas Holmstrom was a fierce competitor who played hard every shift of every game,” said Wings general manager Ken Holland. “He provided us with an abrasive style that complemented our skill players so well. He was fearless in going to all of the physical areas of the ice and was willing to take the punishment necessary in order to make life difficult for opposing defencemen and goalies. ‘Homer’ was a team leader for us both on and off the ice. He’s a unique type of player who provided us with the league’s best net-front presence for 15 seasons.”