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Published: Saturday, 5/31/2008

Wings hoping 'Holmer' on ice

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom, left, mixes it up with Penguins defenseman Hal Gill for a loose puck in Game 3. Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom, left, mixes it up with Penguins defenseman Hal Gill for a loose puck in Game 3.
KEITH SRAKOCIC / AP Enlarge

PITTSBURGH - Red Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't about to share any more information about Tomas Holmstrom's injury than was absolutely required by the NHL.

"What are the rules?" Babcock asked a league official yesterday on the second of two consecutive off days in the Stanley Cup finals. "Do we have to talk about the injury or just what part of the body, or what do we have to do?"

When told he had to provide the type of injury troubling Holmstrom, the big third member of Detroit's top line that features Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, Babcock bristled again.

"There's a thing called HIPAA compliance where you can never reveal anything about the person. How come we have to do it in the league?" he said, creating a room full of laughter. "Oh, anyway, Holmer's got the back of his leg, the hamstring. He's got a little problem there. We think he'll be fine. He's a tough guy."

The mood around the Red Wings was light and fun, maybe because they still have a 2-1 lead over the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals or maybe because they were still feeling good from a team-bonding exercise that took them to a resort a few hours outside of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

"I had a good time," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "It was good for the whole team just to get away. Just the bus ride brings the guys together even more."

Through all the levity, there was concern for Holmstrom, injured late in Detroit's Game 3 loss Wednesday.

Holmstrom, who has made a career out of standing in front of goalies to provide screens or deflect pucks, said he would test out his leg this morning and decide if he was fit to play that night in Game 4.

The 6-foot, 203-pound Holmstrom was knocked into the Penguins' net by 6-7 defenseman Hal Gill with less than six minutes left. That kind of abuse is fine with him.

"Oh, I love it. I don't mind it at all," he said. "I was going hard to the net one leg was up in the air, the other was on the ice. I'll skate and see how it feels. If it's like this, I think I'll be OK."

Holmstrom said if Game 4 were yesterday instead of today, he probably would have been able to play. If he can't go, Babcock said Dan Cleary would likely move up to the top line and Darren McCarty would re-enter the lineup. McCarty has sat out since Game 1 after the return of Johan Franzen, who has an NHL-leading 13 playoff goals.

Detroit has gotten used to playing without key team members. Top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom missed six games because of a knee injury late in the regular season, and Franzen was lost for six after suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

"Ideally you'd love to have everyone going, but at this point in the playoffs, guys get banged up. That's just how it is," forward Kris Draper said. "It's unfortunate that it's happened to Holmer. Right now we're in a wait-and-see period if he's going to be able to play.

"He's a huge part of the success of our power plays, what he does in front of the net, taking on bigger guys, creating loose pucks for Pav and Z. It's a big blow if we lose him. If that's the case, then we've just got to go out and play hard and go from there."

Holmstrom has proven to be a difference-maker in many ways. In a positive sense, he has shown uncanny hand-eye coordination that allows him to deftly deflect pucks headed toward the net. On the flip side, twice in the playoffs - including Game 1 of the finals - referees watching his proximity to the crease have waved off Red Wings goals because of interference.

The penalty that wiped out Lidstrom's goal in the series opener was termed a "reputation call" by Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who believed it would not have been made against any other NHL player.

"Holmer is a very valuable player," Draper said. "He's great in the dressing room before games, and then on the ice his presence in front of the net is huge. ... If Holmer has any chance to play at all, he will. He's got a great pain threshold.

"We've definitely got to get pucks to the net, and we've got to get bodies to the net and stand in front of the net. This time of the year, if goalies see the shots they're going to make the saves."

SHIPPAGAN, New Brunswick - Luc Bourdon received his motorcycle license two weeks before his bike veered into a truck on a winding, two-lane road, instantly killing the rookie defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks.

Investigators said yesterday that Bourdon's inexperience on a motorcycle may have played a role in his death.

Police noted it was windy Thursday in this remote, largely Acadian area and a sudden gust may have pushed Bourdon into the truck's path.

At the crash site, there was a makeshift memorial that includes a single, red rose and a yellow, cloth butterfly. Among the roadside offerings is a photo of Bourdon with an inscription that reads: "Au revoir, Luc."

In an odd twist, police said Bourdon's cousin was injured in a motorcycle accident yesterday. The cousin, who was not identified, was taken to hospital but did not appear to have serious injuries, police added.



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