— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 25, 2018
— NHL (@NHL) February 25, 2018
After the game, Zetterberg spoke very respectfully of Lindsay, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan…
“It’s a number that I’ve been looking at for a while and it’s special to have with him,” Zetterberg said. “He meant a lot for a lot of players, not just for this team but what he did with the PA and all that. We wouldn’t be in this spot where we are now if it wasn’t for him.”
The Red Wings might not have had the success they’ve enjoyed the past 15 seasons if they hadn’t selected Zetterberg with the 210th pick in 1999.
At age 37, and with years of wear and tear, he is toward the end of his career, but in his prime he was one of the best two-way players in the game.
And as you might imagine, Zetterberg’s coach and teammates praised their captain:
“His competitive fire is unreal,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He played probably too many minutes tonight (24:28), but part of that is for the last month he’s been our best player on a nightly basis. Doesn’t really practice much and just goes out there.
“He’s so hyper-competitive that he just refuses to lose battles. Combine that with a hockey sense and skill-set and you get certainly one of the great Red Wings.”
The Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP in 2008 and team captain since 2012, Zetterberg quickly makes an impression on the newest of teammates.
“It’s been a pleasure to play with a guy like that,” Trevor Daley said. “He’s a classy guy away from the game and obviously you guys get to see what he does during games. He’s pretty amazing.”
Zetterberg kept the puck, one of a few he’s collected during his remarkable career. It’s a career that no one saw coming, Zetterberg included. He was a seventh-round pick (as if any Wings fan needs the reminder) in the 1999 draft. 209 players were chosen before him. Not one of them has achieved the same level of success.
He’s a Cup winner, a Conn Smythe winner and a Clancy Award winner. He’s one of the greatest players ever in a franchise that has seen more than a few greats. He could never have envisioned this when he moved from Njurunda, Sweden to Detroit, Michigan, 15 years ago.
“No, no, not at all. Late bloomer,” Zetterberg said. “For me to think that I would last this long and have a chance to play with all these great players for this long, I would never think that.”
Yet here he is. And he isn’t lingering. The 37-year-old is far from the over-the-hill vet who’s playing out the string, the faded star who’s sticking around for milestones. He’s one of the best players on his team, a team that’s almost impossible to imagine without him.
“It was pretty cool,” Trevor Daley said of watching Zetterberg tie Lindsay.
Then Daley smiled and shook his head: “He also played 25 minutes tonight, which is pretty amazing. Good for him, he’s a special person.”
The official number was 24:28, by far Zetterberg’s most this season and the 10th most of his career. Jeff Blashill would rather not heap so many minutes on one of his oldest players, but lately Zetterberg hasn’t been giving him a choice.
Burtchfield also continues, and here’s Zetterberg speaking with Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson…