Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom is well-regarded among the Red Wings’ Swedish players–to the point that when Nordstrom calls players after games, they pick up and hold conversations with Expressen’s NHL scribe from the team bus or tarmac–so when he speaks about the Wings, it’s important to pay attention.
This evening, Nordstrom penned a column about Henrik Zetterberg’s health, and while he offers no blockbuster revelations, he does reinforce the belief that Zetterberg’s ultimate future won’t be determined until sometime this September, at the earliest:
Here are his comments, roughly translated from Swedish:
Anxiety around Henrik Zetterberg–is his career over now?
Los Angeles. Can he play another season?
That’s the big question regarding Henrik Zetterberg’s future with the Detroit Red Wings.
The answer won’t be known for a few weeks.
Soon, the 38-year-old forward and team captain will test his troubled back when he comes to Detroit at the end of August.
Then Zata will make the decision if he can play this season.
The information comes from related persons to Henrik Zetterberg. The Hockey Star does not provide interviews right now.
The reason is that he doesn’t know how this thriller ends.
Summer training at home in Sweden has not given him a decisive answer.
It’s no secret that Zata went through the last NHL season with back pain.
But he is a fighter and played all 82 games in the regular season last winter.
And not only that, Zata was also consistently the Red Wings’ best player.
But in order to save his strength and not exacerbate his back problems, he skipped a lot of workouts.
Rest and treatment were the recipe to keep the team captain good and give Detroit a chance to get back into the playoffs.
But Zata’s heroics weren’t enough. The rest of the team was not good enough, and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
It was painful for not only Henrik Zetterberg, but also the loyal fans who have not yet seen the Red Wings play a single playoff game at Little Caesars Arena.
Zata wants nothing more than to lead his team in the new giant arena, which opened in the 2017-18 season.
“Clearly, it’s the dream I have,” he said when SportExpressen raised the emotional issue last season.
The Red Wings had a streak of 25 straight playoff appearances before that broke in spring of 2017.
Unfortunately, the weakness came just when Little Caesars Arena was being built in Detroit’s center in the fall of 2016.
Zetterberg was forced to cancel his Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. He flew directly from Russia to New York City to be operated on by a specialist.
Everything looked hopeful.
But the pain came back.
The past few years have been tough for Zetterberg, who’s kept it together and outwardly did not show in which games he was forced to suffer.
When Detroit’s general manager, Ken Holland, recently stated that even he doesn’t know if Zata is coming back and playing this fall, everyone understands how serious the situation is.
The Swede has three more years left on his giant contract with the Red Wings, but money is irrelevant in this context.
Zata, who will be 38 years old on October 9th, has been testing this summer to drive some hard workouts and see how the back will react.
Exactly what the results were, we do not know, but so much is clear that it did not turn out so well.
A definite message about his status is not available until he lands in the U.S. at the end of this month, and undergoes a number of tests with the Detroit Red Wings’ doctors and physiotherapists.
That will happen before the training camp in September.
We wait for time to prevail, thus.
I can’t speak to having any insider information regarding this situation, but if Zetterberg hasn’t trained full-out this summer, I can only assume that it’s possible that he won’t start playing until November or December, should the Wings’ medical staff determine that his back will hold up.
I can only hope that such an outcome is the case.