It has been one of the toughest news to digest this summer. Henrik Zetterberg's playing days are over... The 37-year-old Red Wings forward is being placed on long-term injury reserve after he did not pass his physical, team general manager Ken Holland told reporters Friday. Holland said Zetterberg has a degenerative back condition and his NHL career is now over.
"I think he wants to play, but he can't,” Holland said per NHL.com on Friday.
Zetterberg underwent back surgery in 2014 but managed to play 82 games in three consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2018. He was second on the Red Wings with 56 points this past season.
Head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters in late August that Zetterberg hadn’t “really been able to train” in the offseason, which ended up confirming the horrible news.
“He gutted it out for two months at the end of the year, and it was amazing to see,” Blashill said a few weeks ago via ESPN. “But it's one thing to gut it out for two months; it's another thing when you haven't been able to train at all to be able to play an NHL season. I know it's been a real hard summer.”
Writing these words again is painful...
Since his playing days are officially over, the Red Wings posted a lovely tribute video on Tuesday dedicated to their captain, who is expected to be inducted one day in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
One of the all-time great value picks of all time in the NHL, Zetterberg was selected 210th overall by the Red Wings back in 1999 and ended up playing his entire career (1,082 regular-season and 137 playoff games) in a Detroit uniform.
“I’m blessed that, first of all, they drafted me in the seventh round in 1999 and that they stuck with me for all these years,” Zetterberg said in the video. “Playing for one organization, Original Six team, the Red Wings was my favorite team growing up, so it’s very special and I’m really, really happy about it.”
Zetterberg, who turns 38 on Oct. 9, is one of only 38 players in hockey’s exclusive Triple Gold Club thanks to Olympic and world championship gold medals in 2006 and his Stanley Cup championship in 2008.