The Detroit Red Wings lost their captain during the offseason after a debilitating back injury forced veteran forward Henrik Zetterberg into an early retirement. As you would expect from a first rate organization like the Detroit Red Wings it didn't take long for them to honor their former captain and in fact Zetterberg was given the opportunity to drop the ceremonial puck in the season opener.
As you would expect it was an emotional moment for the Red Wings organization, their fan base, and for Zetterberg himself but as you would expect in a sport like hockey it was not all raw emotion and no fun. Zetterberg's big night was not without critique as both teammate Niklas Kronwall and opposing forward Nick Foligno both gave their thoughts on how Zetterberg performed during the puck drop.
“He did OK,” Kronwall said while walking to the dressing room as per The Athletic. “He looked a little stiff.”
Kronwall is of course a little bias and probably went easy on his former teammate, but Foligno on the other hand had no problem roasting Zetterberg for his performance during the ceremony.
“It was terrible,” said Foligno, laughing. “You can tell he’s not used to dropping the puck.”
Now don't worry, it was not like Kronwall and Foligno were simply being mean spirited here, Zetterberg himself acknowledged his questionable performance. Interestingly though Zetterberg added that he also had fun during the whole experience, one that he is usually used to participating in from a very different side of things.
“Yeah, I know,” said Zetterberg. “I felt a little awkward. I’ve never been in that situation. It was fun.”
For Zetterberg however the experience was a strange one, he admits that he left his home at the same time he would normally have left for a game and you can bet that being in the building for the season opener likely gave him the itch to play again. Zetterberg also did the usual rounds with the media who were particularly interested in hearing from him and while doing so indicated that he would be sticking around the team this season, something his teammates seemed to be more than ok with.
That his teammates would like to keep him around should come as no surprise however, Zetterberg was not only the team's leader but he also remaisn one of the most respected men in the entire National Hockey League. This was made clear when Nick Foligno, the guy who roasted him for his poor puck dropping skills, expressed his thoughts on Zetterberg's great career.
“That’s a guy I looked up to, big time,” Foligno told The Athletic after the game. “I just said, ‘All the best to you,’ and wished him well in everything in the next chapter. It sucks to think that he’s done. He’s a guy I admired playing against and always looked forward to the challenge of playing against and someone I respected as a captain, a player and the way he played the game. He had the respect of the entire league and that’s hard to do. That says a lot about him.”