Detroit Red Wings: Bracing for Zetterberg’s Retirement

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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Henrik Zetterberg has been a fixture for the Detroit Red Wings since 2002. In his 15 year career, he has accomplished a lot.  Now a bad back has the Detroit Red Wings captain leaving fans, front office and media to wonder if it is over.

Currently sitting 5th for all-time Detroit Red Wings points with 960.  Zetterberg’s 337 goals moved him past Ted Lindsay (335) last season. Zetterberg had played in 1,082 games, winning the Stanley Cup along with a Conn Smyth trophy, and becoming a pillar in the Red Wings lineup. Now a chronically injured back has the Detroit Red Wings captain leaving fans, front office and media to wonder if it is all over.

It has been a very good offseason for the Wings hockey club. An outstanding draft and a contract extension for Dylan Larkin,  Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha.  These transactions have kept the fans slightly more content.

As the Red Wings rebuild presses on, the one thing young teams need is a dependable captain to help them grow as professionals. Henrik Zetterberg has been that dependable player and a tremendous role model for young players to admire and respect.

For the past 6 seasons, Henrik Zetterberg has been the man with the “C” on his chest.  A do it all, kind of player. Strong on offense. Strong on defense.  He does not get in any of teammate’s face and scream and shout at least nothing like that has been reported.

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He has been similar to the leaders before him, leading by example.  On the Detroit Red Wings bench, he has been seen pointing to spots on the ice while talking to the younger players, teaching, always teaching.

In 2014 Zetterberg underwent back surgery. By all accounts, he has not been the same since. Hank has missed practices to preserve the wear and tear on his back so he would be game ready. He is the guy players and coaches count on. Henrik Zetterberg is an exceptional leader. Word is his back is so bad he has difficulty completing day-to-day tasks.

If Henrik is K.O’d by a bad back it would be a huge loss, for Detroit Red Wings front office staff, coaches, teammates, fans and to the city of Detroit itself whom Zetterberg loves. It would also leave a void for the captaincy in the organization.

It is hard to see how Henrik Zetterberg would not get into the hockey hall of fame. But that is a story for a different time. If he retires before training camp (which is a real possibility), the team would need to go one of two routes.

One option is having three “alternate” captains. Another option is to name a new captain. The aforementioned Dylan Larkin,  has some of the traits Detroit Red Wings legends Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Zetterberg himself have displayed.  Expect Larkin to be the next captain of the Detroit organization.

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This is a time Detroit Red Wings fans should look back on and think and remember what Henrik Zetterberg, has brought to the team and city. And how he’s carved out his own legacy in Red Wings history.