Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg “stepped away from the game” today, which is a nice way of saying that he’s retired from hockey, but can’t formally retire because he’s going to go on the LTIR for the next three years.
For this observer and partisan Wings fan, being there in the first person to witness Holland and Zetterberg speak was…a little surreal.
First and foremost, Holland spoke, dropping the highly-anticipated bombshell that Zetterberg would no longer be able to play per recommendations from Wings team doctor Douglas Plagens and Dr. Frank Cammisa, who performed the discectomy on Zetterberg in 2014. Holland was as blunt and as brief as Holland can possibly be regarding the situation, and so, several feet away from me, the career of one of the most celebrated Wings ever drew to a close…
And then, in the bowels of a rink where cell phone coverage is spotty and the internet is up-and-down, Zetterberg himself came out, and a person who I admire as a human being first and a hockey player second did his best to keep things together while explaining why he’s stepping away from the game. There were more than a few moments when the corners of his mouth quivered from emotion, but the captain kept his cool, delivered a unified message, and that was that.
Except for me, that wasn’t that…I had to wrap my head around the finality of what had just taken place while covering the rest of training camp, watching the practices, peeking at the scrimmages and listening in and occasionally chiming in during the media availabilities that stretched from 9:30 until 3:30.
You probably know more right now about Henrik Zetterberg’s condition and comments than I do, and that’s very specifically because my marching orders come from you, and I was sent up here to cover all of training camp, not just part of it. That’s yielded a dearth of information that I wish I could have posted, but…I had to pay attention to the other 70-something players, too, and get in on the scrums to get good audio.
I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve failed by not being able to be behind the computer picking up Swedish stories and not being able to follow all the disparate threads at once. This was a weird day, and I’ll likely spend the vast majority of my afternoon and evening not writing, but reading and translating.
Training camp itself was fast-paced, hard-charging, and involved a lot of dump-and-chase recovery drills as the Wings’ players worked on their outlet and breakout passes and plays. I can tell you that wearing shot-blocking protection on the gloves is the new fad among the Wings’ players equipment-wise, and a couple of players have changed brands. I can tell you that Jonathan Bernier looks quite good at first glance, while Thomas Vanek is still slow, and some of the Walleye’s signings look like they mean business, as do the Griffins in attendance.
More on that later, I suppose, because the captain has stepped away…and I got to see it happen live, which was very, very strange.