Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros regarding Henrik Zetterberg’s health. Here’s a rough translation of the article:
Detroit is planning for a team without Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg’s injury problem began in 2014–and now his back may stop him.
Detroit begins to plan a future without Henrik Zetterberg, who will be 38 years old in October.
That’s what the general manager says to Sportbladet.
“When I an coach Jeff Blashill put together the lines in the office, we have a variant with Zetterberg and one without him. The last thing we heard is that his back did not cope with heavy strain, unfortunately,” Ken Holland says.
There are 32 days until NHL teams start their training camps in North America.
For the Detroit Red Wings, it is a long and hard wait.
Team captain and superstar Henrik Zetterberg is injured. He cannot train properly or go skating.
“Henrik’s problem began four years ago. He had an operation on his back after the Olympics, and was injured until the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2014. It’s the same problem that bothers him now, and his back will never get better, it’s just something to accept,” says Ken Holland by phone from British Columbia.
In 2018 the problems in his back became increasingly extensive for Detroit’s captain.
“Yes, he had a meeting with our coach, Jeff Blashill, this past winter, and they agreed that Henrik would only play in games and not practice. Nevertheless, Henrik was the best player on the team, describing quite well his capacities and hockey abilities. However, in the last six months Henrik has not been able to work out properly for several consecutive days,” says Ken Holland
Now, it’s mid-August.
“Trying to work out in the gym…”
Coach Blashill talks weekly with his captain, and Holland regularly speaks with Zetterberg’s North American agent, Marc Levine. They keep up to date on the Swede’s well-being.
“We get the same message. Unfortunately. He tries to work out in the gym, but when he presses, and the load increases, the back doesn’t fix on it. He has to rest for a while,” says Holland.
Holland is worried, and cares about Henrik’s health and ability to be a family man and father, where the pain in his back does not hurt every day. And he would like to have Henrik included in the conversation phase which Detroit is in.
“We are building on and we are building new. And then it’s not about out with the older guys and in with the younger players. We need Henrik as a ‘role model’ in our dressing room. He is so professional in his behavior and he leads the way in terms of acting as a player and a person for the Red Wings. The same is true for Niklas Kronwall, by the way. We need the veterans to teach the young players on our team.”
Within a week, Holland will have a group meeting with Zetterberg and the agent Levine.
“I’m not giving up hope yet. And if someone is going to succeed in playing another season, Henrik is. His hockey passion is great and he’s returned before.”
Holland becomes emotional during the telephone conversation.
“Maybe not playing more ice hockey…”
For Detroit and Holland, Zetterberg is the last of the Golden Generation, which gave the city so many successes from 1996 to 2008, including four Stanley Cups.
“Everything started with Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom. Then came Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. All of it belongs to Detroit’s best players through the ages, and I hope we don’t see the last of Henrik,” says Holland.
What are the chances of Henrik playing this winter?
“I can’t give a percentage like that. That doesn’t work. But I will say this, when Blashill and I put together the lines in the office, we make a version without Zetterberg and one with him. Unfortunately, we have to take into account that there may be no more ice hockey for Henrik.”