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The real story about Tomas Holmstrom’s decision to wear #96

I'm still positing updates regarding tonight's game between the Red Wings and Dallas Stars tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD Plus, FS SW Plus, WXXYT AM) in a single post, but even though Paul has already pointed KK readers toward the CBC's Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts column, this quip merits mentioning in a stand-alone fashion. When Tomas Holmstrom retired a week ago today, the oft-repeated story that Holmstrom wanted to pick #96 as his number, but was told to pick #98 by Scotty Bowman becasue it would be "the year he was going home to Sweden" is a little bit...Off.

Holmstrom actually wore #15 for his first two years as a Wing--Holmstrom first played for the Wings, wearing his first set of front teeth, during the 96-97 season, thus his status as a four-stine Stanley Cup winner--and there was a reason that Holmstrom ditched the most-used number in Red Wings history (which no one seems to wear anymore). Per Friedman:

Was at a Labatt's event last week with Scotty Bowman. There's a pretty legendary story about Bowman and the newly retired Tomas Holmstrom. Basically, Holmstrom was looking for a new number and Bowman suggested 98. When the player asked why, Bowman said because that would be the year Holmstrom went back home. (He was off by 15 years.) Bowman said that when the Swede first came over, he was from such a remote area that he didn't know much about the Red Wings. When asked to pick a number, he first tried 19. Wasn't getting that. Okay, how about 91? Uh, no. Holmstrom picked 15, later agreeing to give it up to Dmitri Mironov. That's when Bowman made the crack.

When the Wings snagged Mironov from Toronto Anaheim of all places, he started his tenure with the Wings wearing the now-familiar #51, but he asked the team whether he could switch to #15, and that's when Holmstrom picked his famous #96.

Also: This has nothing to do with the Wings, but Friedman's last "Thought" explains why the NHL and NHLPA have not yet released their new CBA to the public. This issue has some hockey fans scratching their heads given that the league and PA eventually released the previous CBA via PDF format way back in 2005, when such disclosures were much less common electronically and otherwise:

30. As February arrives, the NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to begin the final "drafting period" for the new CBA. Both sides are to meet for 10 consecutive business days to finish the job, with a deadline of 12:01 am on Feb. 16. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): "If the parties are unable to reach agreement on the full text of the CBA language... the language of that provision in the MOU shall automatically constitute the full text of that CBA provision." Any further disputes will go to arbitration.

So we should be able to get our hands on a copy of the CBA when it's actually finished, which is going to take a couple of months.

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redxblack's avatar

So just to further labor an already labored point = Hockey IS being played without a current CBA, but with a MOU. The lockout was indeed unnecessary as hockey can (and IS) being played without a final CBA (although it is arguable whether the Red Wings are actually playing hockey yet).

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 01/29/13 at 01:25 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 01/29/13 at 01:25 PM ET

Hmm….1 area of the peanut gallery seems exceptionally quiet.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 01/29/13 at 01:48 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

That is actually correct. Good one.

And I’m sorry about Mironov…He came from Anaheim, not Toronto!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/29/13 at 07:15 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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