Unless you’re a die hard Detroit Red Wings fan, you probably haven’t given much thought to the future of NHL legend Henrik Zetterberg this offseason. After all, Zetterberg played all 82 games for the Wings last season and looked good doing so, putting up 11 goals and 56 points along the way. Sure he’s 37 years old but he’s healthy and productive, so retirement isn’t even in the picture, right? Think again.
Red Wings insider Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports that a debilitating back issue could force Zetterberg out of the team’s lineup and that it’s very likely Zetterberg has played his last game in the NHL. Check out this quote from Khan’s latest mailbag column for MLive.com:
Henrik Zetterberg will report to Detroit Red Wings training camp in mid-September. After that, it remains to be seen what happens.
He must pass a physical to take part in training camp. If he’s cleared, then he’ll test his troublesome back on the ice before it’s determined whether he can play in a preseason game.
Realistically, it doesn’t appear that he’ll play again. Based on general manager Ken Holland’s recent comments about how difficult the offseason has been for the Detroit captain, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be ready for the start of the season. And if he’s not ready at the start, he’s probably played his last game.
Ouch… that’s got to hurt, Wings fans. The departure of Zetterberg could be devastating for such a young team in transition. Zetterberg is not only a point producer, he’s also a leader on and off the ice and the most veteran player on the team. He’s the Red Wings’ captain and has bled red and white for 15 seasons.
If this is indeed the end for Zetterberg, he’ll retire from the game with a remarkable 337 goals and 960 points in 1082 career regular season games, with an additional 57 goals and 120 points in 137 career playoff games. He’s a Stanley Cup champion and a member of the Triple Gold club, winning not only a Cup, but also an IIHF World Championship gold medal and Olympic gold medal. He was a fierce competitor and never backed down from a challenge. He was one of his generation’s greatest playoff performers, as evidenced by his dominating performance in 2008 that resulted not only in a Stanley Cup championship, but also MVP honours and a Conn Smythe Trophy victory. All the best, Z! Here's hoping you get the send off that you deserve!