Articles from an informal practice: On Zetterberg’s health, the Wings’ leadership group, Green, Kronwall and the jump to the NHL

After posting various Tweets and player comment videos, the Red Wings’ beat writers got to work hammering out articles regarding today’s informal practice at Little Caesars Arena.

Today’s main topic of discussion was the future of Henrik Zetterberg, as noted by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan

“I’m not optimistic because it’s the National Hockey League and he has to compete against players that are younger than him, and they’ve been in the gym every day all summer,” [Wings GM Ken] Holland said. “That’s what athletes in our sport do. He’s not able to do that.

“He’s not able to train at a level that he needs to train at in order to be at the level to play in the league. If he were able to train, he would have trained all May, June, July. He hasn’t trained at all. So, I’m waiting to see what Dr. Cammisa says. We’re waiting for Hank to go in and see Dr. Camissa and see what he (Dr. Cammisa) recommends, suggests, thinks.”

Zetterberg’s longtime teammate and friend Niklas Kronwall — who has dealt with severe knee issues himself — said Zetterberg must be able to physically prepare to play, before even thinking about resuming an NHL career.

“I know he’s had a tough summer,” Kronwall said. “He might be OK right now on a day to day basis but if you can’t train, it’s tough to play hockey at the level of the NHL. It’s just a reality. If you can’t train, nobody has that kind of talent.

“You feel for him, but at the same time, he has to train to be able to play and compete at this level, regardless of how talented or good he is. If you can’t train, it’s tough to play at this level. Right now, we can hope he can get some answers and hopefully some guidance to do something that makes him able to train again.”

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

“I’ve known that he’s had a rough summer and you feel for him,” Kronwall said Thursday after an informal skate at Little Caesars Arena. “He just battled through it. I’m still hoping he sees some doctors and they can come up with some solutions that would get him to train the way he wants to and then be ready whenever that is.”

Zetterberg’s back is bad enough that his career may be over. He has a visit scheduled to see Dr. Frank Cammisa, who performed back surgery on Zetterberg in 2014. For now, Zetterberg already has said he will miss the start of the season. Training camp begins Sept. 14.

That last season’s finale may have been Zetterberg’s last game is something Kronwall doesn’t really want to consider.

“I wish that he could get the same kind of goodbye as the Sedins because that’s how much he’s meant not only to the team but to the city and all the stuff he’s done around the community,” Kronwall said. “Go out on his terms and get the goodbye he deserves. I’m still hoping for that.”

The Wings spoke with MLive’s Ansar Khan regarding the ways in which the leadership group must step up if Zetterberg is unable to play…

“It gives an opportunity for guys to step up,” [Gustav] Nyquist said. “I’m a guy that wants to step up this year and be more of a leader and be a good player. Hopefully I can do that.”

Zetterberg has played in 323 out of a possible 328 games the past four seasons since his surgery, more than any Red Wing. He collected 240 points during that span, 55 more than any of his teammates.

“He’s our leader and he’s still our best player, in my opinion,” Nyquist said. “That’d be a tough loss for us for sure. But, hopefully he can figure out a way here to rehab or something like that and try to get back on the ice.”

Justin Abdelkader said Zetterberg’s talent and leadership can’t be replaced.

“We have a lot of veteran guys that have been in this league for a long time and know what it takes to win, so we got to keep the culture and stay with it here, learn from last season,” Abdelkader said. “Obviously not the way we wanted it to go, but we were in a lot of games and when we get to overtime, find ways to get those extra points and not give up as many leads. I think we’ll be better off because of it. Unfortunately, Henrik, with what he’s going through, you just can’t replace that.”

Niklas Kronwall also addressed his future while speaking with 97.1 the Ticket’s Will Burtchfield…

“I’m a realist too,” Kronwall said on Thursday after the Wings skated at Little Caesars Arena. “The game’s getting younger, it’s getting faster, and I am where I’m at. We’ll see how this year plays out, but this may very well be my last season. If that’s the case, let’s go to camp and make it a good one.”

Kronwall, 37, is entering the final year of the seven-year, $33.25 million contract he signed with Detroit in 2012. A lingering knee injury has cut into his playing time in recent seasons, costing him 18 games in 2015-16 and 25 in 2016-17. Even as he rebounded to play in 79 games last season, he notched a career-low 18:31 minutes per night.

The once-stalwart defenseman has also lost a step on the ice. After posting a plus-46 rating over the first 10 seasons of his career, Kronwall is minus-46 over his last four.

The end is near, and the 15-year vet has no issue admitting it.

“As far as my peak goes, I think that was about 10 years ago. I’m quite a ways away from that,” he said. “But right now you’re just trying to do whatever you can. Of course you try to play your best, but also try to guide some of the young guys if they have questions or if you can give them pointers to help them get to their max level sooner.”

And Mike Green spoke with’s Dana Wakiji regarding his recovery from neck surgery:

Defenseman Mike Green, who underwent surgery on his cervical spine on April 5 in New York, participated in the informal skate Thursday after getting back to town Wednesday.

“I feel good,” Green said. “I’ll go up to New York next week and see the doctor and as soon as I get cleared I’ll be ready for contact and ready to go.”

Green, who signed a two-year contract extension on July 1, said he’s been skating regularly back home in Calgary. He said he has noticed a lot of improvement since he’s been rehabbing post-surgery.

“Yeah, it’s just one of those things that was going on for a long time,” Green said. “Basically, I was playing not to get hit and you can’t play the game effective like that. I had an opportunity to take care of it and tried to here.

“It’s night and day, to be honest. It’s been a long summer recovering, but I feel pretty prepared, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Finally, among the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s notes:

Fans are excited about the likelihood of forwards Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina, the past two Wings’ first-round draft picks, jumping into the lineup this season.

Both had outstanding junior seasons, and Rasmussen, a 2017 draft pick, had an impressive training camp last year.

Both are penciled into the lineup currently, but given the ages (Rasmussen is 19 and Zadina, 18) of the two players, and their lack of professional experience, expectations probably need to be realistic.

“It’s a big step,” said forward Justin Abdelkader, of going directly from junior to NHL hockey. “Physically, mentally, the grind of 82 games. You come up to the NHL where everyone can skate, everyone is big, guys are big and fast, the goalies are better. There’s just not much time and space anymore (on the ice) out there.”

If you missed the video post, MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a clip of Niklas Kronwall’s remarks…

As did the Free Press’s Helene St. James


Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.