Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg ended his professional hockey career due to a back injury. General Manager Ken Holland stated that the long-time captain was forced to end his career due to a degenerative back condition. Last season he started developing these health issues in January and February and told coach Jeff Blashill that he shouldn’t practice and only play in games. Even though he had debilitating back problems, he still played a full season notching 56 points in 82 games last season.
He is currently under his 12-year contract that he signed in 2009 and is due $5.35 million out of the $73 million valued in the contract. The contract ends in the 2021-2022 season, and Holland will place him on long-term injury reserve rather than retirement to opening up more cap space.
Zetterberg’s career with the Red WIngs was very successful. He played 15 seasons with 337 goals and 960 points in 1,082 games. In the postseason he registered an impressive 57 goals, 63 assists, and 120 points in 137 games played. One of his biggest accomplishments was winning the Conn Smythe Trophy along with the Stanley Cup in 2008. He took on the role as the captain after Nicklas Lidstrom hung up the skates in 2012. Zetterberg finished his career being fifth all-time in points in both the regular and postseason. He was also successful off the ice running his Henrik Zetterberg Foundation, which helped him win the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2015, which is the NHL’s award for a players leadership qualities and contribution towards his community.
Zetterberg’s unofficial retirement raises questions on who will be the next captain. Currently, the Red Wings have Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall as their alternate captains. It is expected that the Red Wings will have three alternate captains with a new player joining them. Frans Nielsen and Dillon Larkin are the top candidates for this position. Nielsen is the leading candidate due to his quiet leadership and his experience being an alternate captain when he was with the New York Islanders. Nielsen should also take over Zetterberg’s role in the power play and centering the top two lines with Larkin.
The retirement marked an end of an era for the Red Wings as they get ready for young players like Larkin and Zadina to step up. There is no doubt that Zetterberg’s number 40 will be hanging up the rafters of Little Caesars Arena.