Hockeysverige.se’s Ronnie Ronnqvist has a new book coming out soon, and, as part of his “tease” for Old School Hockey 4, he shares part of an interview with Angelholm, Sweden’s most famous resident, one Henrik Zetterberg. What follows is a rough translation of Zetterberg’s comments per Ronnqvist’s Hockeysverige.se piece:
“The awful thing about the NHL is that you have to be really bad to be good [again].”
A few years ago, they were one of the NHL’s heavyweights. Now Detroit is the worst team in the league. Henrik Zetterberg tells hockeysverige.se about the difficult years, and why he believes that Detroit has a bright future ahead of it.
“They must hit in the draft and I think the last two seasons, they’ve drafted well. But it will, as I said, take time,” says the legend.
Angelholm. The Detroit Red Wings have had some tough years in the NHL. Last season, the team was the worst of any team in the entire NHL. Despite that, there’s a lot of optimism about the club.
In an interview in the book Old School Hockey 4, from Idrottsforlaget, Henrik Zetterberg praises the team’s vision and his friend Steve Yzerman’s return to the organization.
“It’s part of the NHL’s system. All teams have to go through this. Detroit bought a lot of time around the middle and Pavel (Datsyuk’s) draft year. They chose Pavel in the sixth round and me in the seventh.”
“We came in as fresh blood and we were part of a mix where there were still older players, and at the same time as Detroit got new young blood, which you see now is also needed. You have to ‘draft’ well and get players up.”
“If you look at all the teams: Pittsburgh before (Evgeny) Malkin and (Sidney) Crosby, Chicago before (Patrick) Kane, Colorado before (Nathan) MacKinnon, “Gabbe” (Gabriel Landeskog) and (Mikko) Rantanen. Now you have to draft and build your own ‘stars.” That’s what Detroit is doing now.”
“The terrible thing in the NHL is that you have to be really bad to be good,” laughs Henrik Zetterberg, who played for the team between 2002 and 2018.
“IT WAS TIME FOR NEW BLOOD”
Zetterberg continues: “I also think that Detroit fought for a long time and kept going, kept going and kept going…”
“Maybe, but I’m very grateful that we did. There we may have a reason why my career ended when it ended. It was time for new blood in Detroit.”
“I think it looks bright going forward. Detroit as an organization is so incredibly strong and good at the same time, as they have the conditions with the arena and that stuff. In addition, Stevie (Yzerman) comes back and does the rebuilding that’s needed. At the same time, he and the organization realize that it will take time.”
“They must hit right at the draft and I think the last two seasons, they’ve drafted well. But it will, as I said, take time. If you look at, for example, (Dylan) Larkin, he’s an incredibly good player. We have (Tyler) Bertuzzi who came in and is also a very good player.”
“We have a defender like (Moritz) Seider, the German, who will be tremendously good, but Detroit lets them mature in their own way. They don’t have to win this year already. Of course, you outwardly say that you should get to the playoffs, but really this is a process that must be done.”
Is Steve Yzerman the right man for the job?
“Yes, I think he’s the right person for it. First, Yzerman says it takes a long time for people in Detroit to listen. ‘Okay, of course it takes a long time.'”
“Ken Holland started the process before he left and moved on, but if he had said the same thing, there would have been an outcry. It’s unbelievable considering that he won four Stanley Cups in Detroit and built up everything that was there before.”
“When Stevie comes home and says it like, ‘Yes, yes, this is calm, anyway.’ There’s perhaps no greater icon in Detroit today than Steve Yzerman. He did well in Tampa and the trios he made there built what is there now, and are really entirely on his merit.”
“Then he chose to came back, for me, I have a Detroit heart, I was very happy because I’m sure that it will turn around.”