NOVI, Mich. — You can take Tomas Holmstrom off the Detroit Red Wings but you can’t take him out of the state of Michigan — at least not yet.
Holmstrom joined his closest friend, Nicklas Lidstrom, in retirement before the current season started. But unlike the former Wings captain, Holmstrom isn’t quite ready to pack up his family and head back to Sweden.
“I’m going to stay for like, year and a half, two years,” Holmstrom said. “Then we’re going to probably move home. Then if it doesn’t work, we keep the house and then move back here.”
That’s right, Holmstrom is planning to keep his options open. His children were all born in the United States and his family is used to living here, so heading back to Sweden might end up being too big of a change.
Holmstrom, who just turned 40 in January, is from Pitea, a city so far in the north of Sweden that his teammates often said he was from the North Pole. Sometimes the other Swedes joked that he was actually from Finland.
Returning there would be very different from going back to a big city like Stockholm, where Niklas Kronwall is from.
“I think we’re going to adjust pretty good,” Holmstrom said. “My wife (Annelie) will probably have a hard time. She’s probably going to internet shop a lot. It’s not the same, I guess. UPS can come all over now.”
Holmstrom said the lifestyle in his hometown is very different from the one he has in Novi — much more outdoorsy.
“A lot of snowmobiling,” Holmstrom said. “More skiing, fishing in the summertime. Really, I’m more active outdoors. Instead of driving four, five, six hours north, (in Pitea) I can just have the snowmobile outside my door and just go out.
“The kids really enjoy it, too. The kids are more active outside, and I really enjoy that kind of lifestyle.”
Holmstrom’s teammates gave him a new snowmobile as a gift when he played his 1,000th NHL game, and he would like to be able to use it a lot more.
Holmstrom and his wife also have family back in Pitea, which is another reason they want to go back eventually.
Family is what drove Lidstrom to go back home, although he returned to the Detroit area recently for special appearances.
The Holmstroms hosted Lidstrom and his wife, Annika, when they came to town, and the two friends relived old memories by driving down to the Joe together and watching the Wings play.
“Sometimes you’re up there in the suite watching down and you’re like, wow,” Holmstrom said. “I don’t miss it, though. But it’s nice that nobody’s beating me up and I don’t have any aches and pains.
“I can play tennis, I can snowmobile and I can ski. I haven’t skied in 20 years. I went (on a recent) weekend. It was fun, but it wasn’t pretty.”
While his former teammates are in the midst of a relentless, lockout-shortened schedule, Holmstrom is finally relaxing and just being a dad.
“I really enjoy it,” Holmstrom said. “It’s so much fun. It’s almost like now you know how much you missed.
“Sometimes I couldn’t see the kids for a month because we were gone for 10 days, and they had something when I had something. So it’s lots of fun to be around the kids. I like it.
“They can drive you nuts; I guess that’s normal.”
All three of Holmstrom’s children — 11-year-old Max, 9-year-old Isak and 7-year-old Isabel — play hockey. Now that he has some time, Holmstrom is helping coach his kids.
So what about the younger Holmstroms’ net-front presence?
“I try to teach them, especially the 9-year-old,” Holmstrom said. “He’s playing more like me. The older one is more — a little bit finesse guy. But the middle one plays like me.