Loss of Henrik Zetterberg throws another hurdle in front of Red Wings
By Ted Kulfan, Detnews.com, February 24th, 2013
The race for the playoffs begins now for the Red Wings.
And they’ll be short a player, or a few.
When the Red Wings reconvene today for their first post-Olympics practice, they’ll do so without their Swedish players, who will be resting after playing in the gold medal game Sunday.
More importantly, the Red Wings will be without their captain, Henrik Zetterberg, who had back surgery last week.
Zetterberg likely will miss the remainder of the regular season, but could return in the playoffs — if the Red Wings are in the playoffs.
“It’s going to be hard,” Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar said. “We knew it was going to be hard even with Z here, and now it’s going to be harder.”
As much as Zetterberg’s offense will be missed, his leadership and character will be difficult to replace.
“His leadership in the locker room, in my opinion, will be an important loss,” assistant Bill Peters said. “It’s a substantial loss, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s your captain, your leading scorer, a point-a-game player.
“But now we’ll get our heads wrapped around it and move on and find a way to play where we can be successful as a group.”
With 24 games remaining, the Red Wings have a one-point lead on the Blue Jackets, Senators and Capitals, with the Hurricanes and Devils three back.
The Red Wings will bank on the return of a couple players, and the health of Pavel Datsyuk, to compensate for Zetterberg’s absence.
Datsyuk (knee) returned for the final two games before the break, then captained Russia during the Olympics.
Johan Franzen (concussion) could return for Wednesday’s game in Montreal, while Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) is expected to play one or two conditioning games in Grand Rapids before returning next week.
Franzen has played one game since Dec. 15 because of recurring concussion symptoms. Weiss last played on Dec. 10 before having surgery.
“Losing Z is a huge loss for us,” Weiss said. “I’m not thinking about coming in and replacing him. I have to come in and do my own thing and play my own game.
“But we’re going to need guys to step up and fill the void. I haven’t been able to show my best yet. I’m hoping to come back and have a strong push to the end.”
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has back surgery; he still might return this season
By Ansar Khan, Mlive.com, February 21st, 2014
Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg underwent back surgery today, and the good news for the club is he might not be done playing hockey this season.
“It went very, very well,” Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said. “They removed part of a disc that was rubbing on a nerve. It was what they thought it was. The recovery process looks very, very positive.”
It’s believed that Zetterberg will need eight weeks to recover, which means he could return during the first round of the playoffs, if the Red Wings qualify.
But Martin said there’s a chance Zetterberg could return before the playoffs. He said Zetterberg was expected to be up and walking today.
“It’s a really good sign,” Martin said. “They feel confident this procedure will help in the long term.”
The procedure was performed by Dr. Frank Cammisa at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Zetterberg, 33, will be placed on long-term injured reserve. Martin did not want to comment on whether his absence will prompt the club to be more aggressive in their pursuit of offensive help by the March 5 trading deadline.
Zetterberg has been plagued by back issues for several years. He missed 11 games in December due to a slightly herniated disc. The issue caused him to sit out two more games in January.
He played just one game for Sweden in the Olympics before withdrawing last Friday due to severe back pain, which he said was "20 times worse" than anything he'd ever experienced.
Zetterberg had surgery at the same time that Sweden defeated Finland Friday in a semifinal.
Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, named Sweden's captain after Zetterberg withdrew, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: "(Zetterberg) sent a text and told me he would be sedated during the entire game, but he wished us luck and said he wanted to wake up and see that we won. It feels good that we could give it to him."
Zetterberg has been the Red Wings’ best player this season, leading them in goals (16), assists (32), points (48) and plus-minus rating (plus-19) despite missing 13 games.
No decision has been made yet on how Zetterberg’s absence will affect roster moves.
By Lyle Richardson, thehockeynews.com, February 18th, 2014
The news that a herniated disc forced Henrik Zetterberg to withdraw from the Olympics was not only a blow to Sweden’s men’s hockey team, but also to the Detroit Red Wings.
The injury-ravaged Red Wings currently cling to the last wild card berth in the Eastern Conference, with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils nipping at their heels. They’ll need their key players healthy if they’re to hold off these challengers and clinch a playoff spot.
Zetterberg, 33, missed 13 NHL games this season to back pain, yet he leads the Red Wings in goals (16), assists (32), points (48), shots (151) and plus-minus (plus-19). He’s also second in power play points (17), third in faceoff wins (259) and sixth in ice time (20:33).
Sweden’s team doctor claimed Zetterberg’s season could be over, but that remains to be seen. He will return to Detroit this week for further evaluation. The Wings’ playoff chances would be significantly hampered if their captain underwent season-ending back surgery. In fact, it may force GM Ken Holland into the trade market in search of short-term help.
MLive.com’s Ansar Khan responded to his readers’ questions about that possibility. He observed the trade market is limited, with only five teams (Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders) considered to be sellers.
Center Stephen Weiss ($4.9-million annual cap hit) is expected to come off long-term injured reserve (LTIR) following the Olympics, which would limit the Wings cap space. Khan pointed out that could be rectified by placing Zetterberg ($6 million) on LTIR. He noted, however, the trade options are slim and expensive.
The Red Wings are a team in transition this season. They’ve been hampered by injuries, while promising players such as Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser are still adjusting to the NHL level. Attempting to land a playoff rental such as Thomas Vanek or Mike Cammalleri would likely cost them one of those young players, a top prospect or their first round pick.
Zetterberg’s absence and the apparent lack of a viable short-term replacement puts the Red Wings’ 22-year playoff streak in jeopardy. However, the expected return of Weiss and possibly winger Johan Franzen (concussion) after the Olympics should give them a boost. If key players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard remain healthy, the Wings still have a decent chance of keeping their playoff streak alive.
GM Ken Holland could also opt to take the long view and stick with the current lineup minus Zetterberg. If he does make a move by the deadline it could be for an affordable depth player.
By Ansar Khan, Mlive.com, February 14th, 2014
Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has been plagued by back issues for years. But the herniated disc that forced him to withdraw from the Olympics Friday for Sweden is “20 times worse” than what he’s experienced before.
“I felt a bit after the game against the Czech Republic, but no more than usual,” Zetterberg told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “But on Thursday, it got worse and worse and now it is 20 times worse than before. We’ll see when I go home. … It hurts at the slightest movement. Really disappointing.”
Zetterberg, 33, will fly back to Detroit next week for further evaluation. It is yet to be determined whether he will need season-ending surgery. He is not expected to be ready for the Red Wings’ first game following the Olympic break, Feb. 26 at Montreal.
Zetterberg missed 11 games with a slightly herniated disc in December and two more with the same issue in January. He played in the final five games before the Olympic break and was flourishing on a line with Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader.
He made the decision to pull out of the Olympics after playing one game for Sweden – he scored the winning goal in a 4-2 victory Wednesday over the Czech Republic.
“In this situation it was no tough decision as this was no borderline case,” Sweden team doctor Bjorn Waldeback told media in Sochi, Russia, including NHL.com. “For people who know medicine it is obvious that this couldn’t continue.
“(Zetterberg) has been in touch with the Detroit medical staff. I have been in touch with the NHL doctors who are here. They totally agree with us. When you suffer from a herniated disc the way he does, you need to go home for a medical evaluation.”
Zetterberg leads the Red Wings in goals (16), points (48) and plus-minus rating (plus-19).
The Swedes named Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall as team captain and Detroit forward Daniel Alfredsson as an alternate captain. They defeated Switzerland 1-0 Friday on Alfredsson's goal.
By Helene St. James, Freep.com, February 14th, 2014
Henrik Zetterberg, captain of the Detroit Red Wings and Sweden, is in such bad shape, he can barely move. He is done at the Sochi Games, and the Wings are waiting to hear whether he will need surgery.
A herniated disk that flared up overnight forced Zetterberg to pull out of the Olympics today. Wings general manager Ken Holland said Zetterberg will stay in Sochi at least through the weekend because he is in too much pain to sit on an airplane. Zetterberg, on anti-inflammation medication for now, will return to Detroit as soon as possible — the NHL has a charter going back Thursday — and will see a specialist.
Losing him most immediately impacts Sweden's chances at the Olympics.
"I just feel my energy went down when I heard the news," Swedish and Wings teammate Daniel Alfredsson said. "He's our leader, our captain and one of our best players. To replace him is going to be impossible."
Zetterberg could not be reached for comment, but he told Sweden's Aftonbladet that "it's the same problems as before, with my back. Only 20 times worse. I just can't play anymore here; it's impossible.
"I can hardly move, the pain is incredible. It's really sickening. I've been looking forward to this tournament for years and to have to leave it, I'm so frustrated."
Holland, who is in Sochi as part of Hockey Canada, had been in constant communication with Zetterberg since Thursday.
"He is in a great deal of discomfort, so in fairness to Sweden, the Detroit Red Wings organization and himself, he is pulling out of the Olympics. He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break. Beyond that, I have no real time frame."
Zetterberg, 33, missed 11 games for the Wings in December, after his back flared up.
"I don't know if he will need surgery," Holland said. "He needs to see a doctor. He is going to wait until he feels better, then fly home early next week. It is, obviously, a huge disappointment for him."
Sweden coach Par Marts said he talked to Zetterberg after he scored the winning goal against the Czech Republic on Wednesday, "and there was no problem. It was overnight.
Gustav Nyquist, Zetterberg's roommate at the Olympics, said Zetterberg "didn't get out much Thursday; he was in the room a lot.
"The most important thing is for him to get better as soon as possible. We need him in Detroit, too."
The Wings can ill afford to be without Zetterberg, their best all-around player. They are coming out of the Olympic break in less than two weeks, clinging to the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
By Ansar Khan, Mlive.com, February 12th, 2014
Henrik Zetterberg scored (the game-winning) goal to lift Sweden to a 4-2 victory over the Czech Republic Wednesday in the Olympic opener in Sochi, Russia.
The Swedes led 2-0 after one period on goals by Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators (10:07) and the St. Louis Blues’ Patrik Berglund (13:17) and increased their lead to 4-0 after Zetterberg (51 seconds) and Karlsson (4:07) scored in the second.
After Zetterberg’s goal, the Czech’s replaced Jakub Kovar (three goals allowed on 10 shots), a surprise starter over the Winnipeg Jets’ Ondrej Pavelec, who didn’t even dress for the game.
New Jersey Devils teammates Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr midway through the second period to get the Czechs back into the game, but Sweden held on thanks to 27 saves by Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, who stopped 15 shots in the third period, including Tomas Kaberle’s breakaway attempt.
Zetterberg, Sweden’s captain, had two shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in 18:14. Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall, an alternate captain for the Swedes, had one assist and a minus-1 rating in 19:15, the same for defense partner Jonathan Ericsson.
Daniel Alfredsson, participating in his fifth Olympics, had two shots in 12:12. Gustav Nyquist, who entered his first Olympics on a roll, with nine goals in 10 games, had no shots in 10:36.
By George Sipple, Freep.com, February 10th, 2014
It’s not that much of a surprise that Red Wings forwards Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader have benefited from playing with a talent like Henrik Zetterberg.
Zetterberg, though, said his linemates help keep him “a little younger.”
Nyquist, in particular, has helped ease some of the offensive burden for Zetterberg recently while Pavel Datsyuk was missing from the lineup with a leg injury.
Nyquist had a four-game point streak snapped in a 4-2 loss to the Lightning on Saturday night, the final game before the NHL began a break for the Sochi Olympics.
Nyquist had five goals and two assists in his four-game point streak. He has nine goals and five assists in his past 11 games.
Abdelkader had a three-game point streak end Saturday. He had three goals and an assist over that three-game stretch.
Zetterberg has four assists over the past four games. He had two goals and 10 assists in his past nine games.
“I think it’s a good mix of forwards,” Zetterberg said. “Abby’s worked really hard for me, and Gus gives us a lot of space and room and gives us the puck. Gus has been on fire. It’s fun to see.
“The opportunity he got here, he really took advantage of — he scores goals.”
Zetterberg said his linemates “do the right things, they’re in the right spots. They put the puck away when they get a chance.”
Asked about the success of the line, Abdelkader said he and Nyquist know where they’re supposed to be.
“Each of us knows what we need to do to help the line,” Abdelkader said. “Sometimes you put a line together and you mesh well.
“We’ve just gone out and we’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along.”
Abelkader said his job is to get in on the forecheck, “do some skating for those guys, grind on pucks, be in front of the net. Just my normal job.
“Obviously, Z is up the middle. He makes strong plays, good defensively. Gus is really shooting well and finding open areas. He’s a really good skater, too, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Henrik Zetterberg Has Been a Marvel as Red Wings Captain
By Bob Wojnowski, Detroitnews.com, February 5th, 2014
Sure, Henrik Zetterberg would like to have a break, or at least catch a break. Sometimes his back aches, sometimes his legs are weary. But he’s needed in all sorts of places now, and the next time you hear him complain, it’ll probably be the first.
This is the greatest test of Zetterberg’s captaincy, across two continents, no time to rest. And somehow, in the midst of guiding the Red Wings through their injury woes, before helping guide Sweden in the Sochi Olympics, Zetterberg is playing as well as ever.
In fact, I’d suggest he’s having one of the remarkably impactful seasons of his career. He leads the Wings with 16 goals and 48 points despite missing 13 games to injury. He’s doing it without a batch of ailing teammates, including Pavel Datsyuk, who may return from a 14-game absence Thursday.
Zetterberg is taking on more duties, all while helping teach the youngsters how to shave. Well, if not shave, how to behave. You’d think it’d wear on a 33-year-old star, with the Wings again scrapping to reach the playoffs. But as the toil has mounted, the toll hasn’t, and as he stood in front of the updated standings on the eraser board in the dressing room, I’d swear it seemed Zetterberg was enjoying this even more than normal.
“It’s fun for us old guys, when the young kids come in and play well,” Zetterberg said. “Obviously they’re ready. They’re doing a good job in Grand Rapids, there’s no transition time when they come up. Once again, you just see the organization doing some right things here.”
Zetterberg has been playing on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist, who’s so dynamic he was added to the Swedish Olympic team, replacing injured Johan Franzen. The line has been terrific as the Wings have collected points in seven of their past nine games to climb back into a playoff spot for now, with two more games before the 17-day Olympic break.
Zetterberg has 12 points in seven games and is plus-20 for the season. How impressive is that? The Wings’ next-best is Jonathan Ericsson’s plus-9, while Datsyuk is minus-2.
At first, Mike Babcock was forced to play the youngsters, and now is eager to do so. It helps that Ken Holland and his staff drafted under-the-radar talent, and that veteran leaders such as Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard have embraced the transition.
That’s not as simple as it appears. Experienced players such as Daniel Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi have been scratched at times, and the ongoing competition has pushed the Wings through dangerous times. When Franzen and Stephen Weiss get healthy, the Wings will have some interesting choices to make — unless they’re made for them.
“We’ve had injuries before, but we haven’t had the big pieces out like this year,” Zetterberg said. “It’s been more minutes than usual for me, although I’m not complaining. When (older) guys come back, there are gonna be some tough decisions.”
Keeping it calm
There’s no debating the impact of Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, but when another mob of youngsters — Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening — play well, you have a whole new atmosphere. The Wings are deep into the post-Nicklas Lidstrom era, and from a leadership standpoint, it’s been mostly seamless.
“All the leaders have done a great job making us feel we’re a part of this team,” Nyquist said. “You learn something every game on a line with Z.”
Just like Lidstrom, Zetterberg has a settling effect, even in a room full of kids. No, it’s not like parenting, because the Wings’ youngsters are fairly mature. It’s more like a dorm-floor monitor, without the yelling and bed checks.
“When they make a mistake, you don’t get down on them,” Zetterberg said. “Sometimes there’s enough panic out there and you just want to keep everything calm. It’s fun to play with them. Gus is so fast, so quick. He gets a lot of easy goals, but they’re not really easy goals. It’s because he’s in the right spot. Then we have Abby, who’s kind of the pit bull and doesn’t get enough credit.”
Zetterberg is averaging 23 minutes lately, and it helps to have the shifty Nyquist on one side and the bulky Abdelkader on the other. The Wings will need Datsyuk to alleviate pressure, but in the meantime, they’re getting better.
Datsyuk created a mild stir by reasserting his commitment to the Olympics in his native Russia while dealing with an apparent knee injury. He might return for the Wings’ upcoming two games, but if he can’t go close to full speed, he probably shouldn’t go to the Olympics.
Easy for us to say, without the political and cultural ramifications. As someone familiar with the pace of international hockey, and as captain of Team Sweden, Zetterberg actually sees a benefit.
“I will definitely say, if we’d been in an All-Star break, it would’ve been nice to get those four days off,” Zetterberg said. “But you always want to play in the Olympics. And being off for 10 days, I don’t know if that’s good either. It’s almost like your body is checking out and thinking it’s the offseason. Since I’ve missed (13) games, it evens out to a normal season.”
In an abnormally turbulent season, Zetterberg has kept things as normal as possible, playing as passionately as ever. Through all the team’s injuries, it’s still noticeable when he’s gone, and especially noticeable when he’s back.
Zetterberg’s Three Assists Help Wings Force Overtime
By Chris Turner, Zetterbergfan.com, February 2nd, 2014
The Red Wings were down 4-2 with just over a minute left in the second period, when Henrik Zetterberg took over, setting up three Detroit goals and leading the team to a comeback to force overtime against the Washington Capitals.
At 18:49 of the second period, Zetterberg sent a nice cross-crease pass to Gustav Nyquist for a power-play tally, bringing the Wings to within one goal going into the third.
Then, just 42 seconds into the third period, The Captain set up Nyquist’s first career Hat Trick goal, to tie it up at four-a-piece. Zetterberg carried the puck into the offensive zone, faked a slap-shot, and sent a pass across ice to Nyquist, who was a step ahead of fellow Swede Niklas Backstrom.
Later, down by a goal again, Z was once in the middle of the play again, tapped the puck down to Justin Abdelkader who tied it up and forced overtime with a backhander.
Zetterberg now has two goals and nine assists in last six games. He has 16 goals and 31 assists for 47 points in 42 games this season. He is on pace for 26 goals and 50 assists for 76 points in 68 games this season. He has missed 11 games with an injured back this year.