Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg may have skated in his final NHL game. Dealing with recurring back issues, Zetterberg has already been ruled out for the beginning of the 2018-19 season. The problem appears to be so severe that symptoms creep back up each time Zetterberg tries to resume training.
In speaking with the Detroit Free Press, Zetterberg admitted that things are getting worse and he’s just waiting for someone to tell him its over.
“Every time I try to amp up my workouts, I get symptoms again. Surgery is not an option. Since February, it has slowly gotten worse — things like nerve pain down your legs, disc-related issues. I was able to find a way to get through it, but it has slowly gotten worse.
I need someone to tell me I can’t play hockey anymore.”
That doesn’t sound good. The 37-year-old had back surgery in 2014, but was able to skate in all 82 games in each of the past three seasons. All of those games have taken a toll, resulting in his back progressively getting worse for the last several months. The end of last season saw Zetterberg sitting out of practices due to his back pain.
What’s next for Zetterberg and the Red Wings? Should he be unable to play, the Red Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve. That would free up some needed cap space, which is important as Zetterberg is under contract through the 2020-21 season and carries an average cap hit of $6,083,333 a season.
Should this be the end, no one will deny that Zetterberg had one hell of a career. He has skated in 1,082 games and recorded 337 goals and 623 assists for 960 total points. He won the Stanley Cup in 2008 and also won gold medals with Sweden at the 2006 Ice Hockey World Championships and the 2006 Winter Olympics.
This may be the end of an era. Zetterberg has been the leader of the Red Wings for quite some time, and it’s weird to think of the team without him.