Simply known as the “Demolition Man”, former Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom made his living in front of the net and terrorizing opposition goaltenders. He also was a part of four Stanley Cup championship teams, playing a key role in their 1998, 2002, and 2008 victories. Upon his retirement following the 2011-12 NHL season, there hasn't been a single Red Wings player to don his No. 96 jersey number – until this year with Jake Walman.
The defenseman, who was acquired last season from the St. Louis Blues along with Oskar Sundqvist in the deal that sent veteran Nick Leddy back to Detroit's former Central Division rival, will be wearing No. 96 when he hits the ice with Detroit in 2022-23. Upon his acquisition, he decided on the No. 8 that was last worn by Justin Abdelkader; that number is now worn by new defenseman Ben Chiarot, who signed from the Florida Panthers this offseason.
And Walman hopes to have a chance to talk to the player known affectionately by fans as “Homer” at some point in the near future.
Jake Walman hopes to honor Tomas Holmstrom with his jersey number
“I know Holmstrom was the last guy to wear it,” Walman said Monday at Little Caesars Arena following the morning skate. “Hopefully I can have a chat with him and represent it well.”
However, he'll have to wait to debut his new jersey number, as he's still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Right now, his timeline is estimated for a November return to action.
“Yeah, on one of the drills, one of the coaches had to remind me it was no contact,” Walman said, smiling. “But I feel I'm ready to go and when they say I'm cleared, hopefully, I can jump right in.
“I'm a competitor so I want to get out there as soon as possible. I feel like I'm pretty much 100% right now.”
But in the meantime, he knows the responsibility that comes with wearing the number of a beloved former Red Wings hero.
“The guys on the team think it's a cool number,” Walman said. “Hopefully I can represent it really well.”
The Red Wings officially begin the 2022-23 regular season schedule on Friday night against the Montreal Canadiens.