Detroit Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg’s Status in Limbo

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 26: Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on March 26, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 26: Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on March 26, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings have yet to receive word if their captain Henrik Zetterberg will return to Detroit for a 16th season.  Zetterberg has been battling through a back injury that has lingered for quite some time.

The Detroit Red Wings might be forced to move on next season without their future hall of fame captain Henrik Zetterberg.  After the Red Wings season had ended reports surfaced that indicated Henrik Zetterberg might not be able to continue his career due to constant back issues that at one time in 2014 left him face up leaving on a stretcher.

Henrik Zetterberg was the captain of Team Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympic games.  Zetterberg was unable to finish the tournament due to a severe back injury that would end up requiring surgery to repair it.  Henrik Zetterberg would only be able to play in 45 regular season contests for the Detroit Red Wings that season, recording 48 points.

The Detroit Red Wings would go on to make the playoffs briefly that season before a quick exit would occur, losing in their first-round series to the Boston Bruins in 5 games.  This was the season Henrik Zetterberg & Pavel Datsyuk were both limited due to injury to 45 games played.  Zetterberg although missing so much time still finished tied with Niklas Kronwall for second on the team in points with 48.   Daniel Alfredsson would lead Detroit with 49 points in 2013/14.

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Henrik Zetterberg would return for the playoffs but only played in two of the five games recording two points.  Since the back surgery, Zetterberg has been a workhorse for the Red Wings.  In his last three seasons “Hank” has played in every regular season game which comes as a bit of a surprise knowing what he’s been through in the past.

Per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press; Jeff Blashill gives us a little bit of an inside tale as to what Henrik Zetterberg has been playing through especially last season.

"At this point, I haven’t heard anything from Henrik to say that he is or is not playing. The biggest thing with Henrik is, how healthy is Henrik? I know he spent the whole second half of last season not practicing because of his back. He ground it out because he is the ultimate warrior, one of the best I have ever been around, and was able to still be a real good player. But that continues to take a wear and tear on your body. So I think he is in the process of deliberating to see where is his back at? And only Henrik can answer that and it will be answered I am sure come camp time."

That leaves us to question if Henrik Zetterberg really will be able to play this up and coming season or not.    Detroit may have to push onward without their leader leaving younger players relied upon to step up and become the next leader.  Insert; Dylan Larkin.

Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News yesterday wrote a story that was sourced from a Swedish publication called the hockey blade where Zetterberg’s agent confirms the captain is undecided about his playing future.

"“He has not decided if he will continue or not,” Svensson said, according to a report Tuesday by Piotr Arvidsson.“There have been some injury problems with his back. It is impossible to answer how it will be, for it one cannot know what it is now.“He simply has not decided,” the agent said."

If the Captain were not able to return for the up and coming season, it would leave Frans Nielsen as Detroit’s number two center.  Nielson produced 33 points last season.  Henrik Zetterberg related his loss in production to fighting his back injury along with being unable to practice regularly.  Henrik Zetterberg, while challenged physically, was still able to produce 56 Points.

It would be a shame if Henrik weren’t able to reach the 1000 point career milestone due to injury.  Zetterberg currently sits 40 points shy from this wonderful accomplishment.  The Detroit Red Wings down the middle of the line-up would look like this; Larkin, Nielson, Rasmussen (hopefully) & Glendening if they were indeed Zetterberg-less.

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Losing the leadership would be a tremendous loss, losing in the area of a 56 point player hurts the depth of the Detroit Red Wings who still counted upon Henrik night in and night out.  Surely the number 40 jersey will hang high above the ice at LCA one day; we hope to see that number 40 ON the ice for another season before we talk more about retirement.