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Abel to Yzerman

A Painless Farewell For Homer

We pick on Johan Franzen quite a bit around here.  He's been our number 1 whipping boy for about a year, until Saturday when he was officially replaced by Quote Me On This: I Suck.

Franzen, according to the Douche Canoe and a few others, has been asked to "replace" Tomas Holmstrom as a net-front presence.  For all the things we go at the Mule for, his inability to "replace" Homer isn't a slam.  It's just a statement of fact.  Nobody could, or ever will.

Nobody had the job Holmstrom had. I guess that's mainly because nobody in the NHL played for so long with so little natural skill. He couldn't frigging skate, couldn't shoot really well because he had a fat stripper's ass for a stick blade...flat and frumpy and used.  I never saw him play much defense and he spent more time laid out on the ice or two inches above it then he did standing on it. 

Scotty took away his number 15 and gave him 96, allegedly so that he'd know his number indicated the last year he'd spend in the league if he didn't do exactly as Scotty told him.

And Scotty told him to sacrifice himself. Every shift, every power play. Every time he entered the offensive zone.  Take the wood. Take the puck. Take the slashes and the shafts from Belfour, right up into your sack, Homer.  Take them on the calves and the ass.  And, oh, that ass.  Wave it. Wiggle it. Shove it back into Roy's face until he goes home and beats the shit out of the first family member he could find.

And Homer?  Don't be a bitch.  Get used to being messed with.  Get used to having goals stolen, taken away, reviewed and debated.  Not just yours.  Actually not many of them were yours. Most were Nick Lidstrom's.  It got to the point where the arms would go up in Lidstrom's back swing.  Before the puck even left Lidstrom's stick, Bettman's refs were calling goalie interference on 96. 

Want to do a cool experiment with me?  Here.  Try this. Click here. That's a link to a YouTube search using the phrase, "holmstrom screwed". Hundreds of hits. Thousands.

Look at Guralnick's photos from earlier.  Look at the stitches above Homer's right eye, courtesy of Pronger and Niedermayer. 

Nobody was tougher than Holmstrom, in any sport.  Seriously. Who took more abuse, more consistently.  Maybe Randall "Tex" Cobb or any average WNBA player. But that's it. 

He was, of course, the last one.  Homer didn't play much in the '96-'97 season, like ten games or something.  But he's the last guy who knew what it was like that night in June '97 when the Joe exploded. He wasn't on the bench for the clincher but he was there and he was a Wing.  Then he did it three more times and he was more critical to each successive Cup.

We didn't understand a damn word he said.  No clue.  In 2009, current captain Hank Zetterberg was dragging his feet on getting together with our boy Tick Tock to get an extension done. 

These two lines are the best thing we've ever written here...

Homer: “You signing renewing and using ink for a name with paper?”

Zetterberg: “Jesus Homer”

Of course we made that up, but it was an easy sell, eh? 

By all accounts, he was the most popular Wing for nearly two straight decades. His teammates loved him and I'd guess it's because he was so damn tough.  Men respect stuff like that.  His sense of humor just sealed the deal, most likely. 

So he's gone.  All of them are from '97 and '98. Only Datsyuk remains from '02. That's crazy and it's depressing, but we're all in kind of a brittle bitchy mood these days. 

In any event, we've seen too many damn retirements lately.  That's what I thought when I watched Homer's today.

It's been strange watching the Wings without him and it seems like we never have time to appreciate what these guys have done for us all.  Well, he did a lot.  He sacrificed more than any of them, with the exception of maybe The Captain.  Interesting though, because when it comes to pain threshold and tolerance and toughness...he's right up there with Steve Yzerman.  Now that's a fitting farewell.

See ya Homer.

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Red Winger's avatar

  Homer: “You signing renewing and using ink for a name with paper?”

  Zetterberg: “Jesus Homer”

Damn funny (four exclamation points)


Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 01/22/13 at 06:41 PM ET

TheRealYooper's avatar


game feed.

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 01/22/13 at 07:11 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I missed the presser.  :”(

Loved him from the first moment I saw him play.  Loved him until the last time I saw him grimace as he struggled to get those ruined knees to propel him down ice.

I’ll always love Homer.

Never. Complained.

Best ever.

Happy Trails, Homer.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 01/22/13 at 07:13 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Chief: I enjoy reading your stuff.  Every time.  That said, I don’t feel the need to compliment/ you on your writing every time.  But…this post…thank you.  It’s players like Homer that make me PROUD to sport the Red and White.  Even if this season* goes to total shit.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 01/22/13 at 07:27 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Great post, Chief.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 01/22/13 at 07:31 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Homer was my favorite by far for a long long time

Posted by MoreShoot on 01/22/13 at 07:44 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

2 players come to mind when anyone mentions Homer’s name.

Phil Esposito and Dino Ciccarelli.

Espo scored and unbelievable amount of goals just because he was standing in/near the crease slamming in rebounds.

Dino was the same way but half Espo’s size and not nearly as fast. Dino had to make room for himself in front of the net and took about the same amount of abuse as Homer.

When Dino retired, Bowman figured Homer would make a good replacement.  I think he got lucky when we all found out how great Homer’s eye/hand coordination was.  It led to a unique, successful and unforgettable career.

Thank You Homer for your love of and dedication to the game of hockey ... thank you for all of the memories and highlight clips ... thank you for helping to bring the Stanley Cup to Detroit multiple times.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 01/22/13 at 07:46 PM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com