Tomas Holmstrom called it the best job in the world.
It just wasn't always glamorous.
"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 made his retirement official Tuesday after 15 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, announcing it at a news conference before the team's home opener against Dallas. The gritty winger helped Detroit to four Stanley Cup titles with his hard-nosed play in front of the net. He also won an Olympic gold medal in 2006 with Sweden.
Holmstrom will turn 40 on Wednesday. Last season, he had 11 goals and 13 assists in 74 games — the 24 points were his fewest since 1997-98, his second season.
Last season was the second of a two-year deal for Holmstrom, and the lockout postponed any final word on whether he would be back this season.
"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 finished his NHL career with 243 goals and 287 assists in 1,024 regular-season games. He made his debut in 1996, and Detroit won the first of two straight Stanley Cup championships that season.
The Red Wings also won in 2002 and 2008.
"It's been a wonderful journey, and I enjoyed every minute of it," he said.
Holmstrom played in 180 post-season games, scoring 46 goals with 51 assists.
"I had the greatest job in the world," Holmstrom said. "Now it's time to move on."
These goodbyes are becoming commonplace for the Red Wings, who also lost star defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement. Now new captain Henrik Zetterberg and standout forward Pavel Datsyuk are Detroit's main attractions — but Holmstrom's work ethic and willingness to take punishment around the net will be missed.
"Aggravating the goaltender, aggravating the other team's defencemen," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "Paid the price night after night after night."