Red Wings GM: Henrik Zetterberg’s health ‘a bit of an unknown’

Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) keeps the puck from New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (72). (Paul Sancya/AP)

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is still unsure if captain Henrik Zetterberg will be healthy enough to play next season.

“I am anxious to know where Henrik Zetterberg is at,” Holland said Friday. “Certainly he’s a bit of an unknown in terms of health.”

Zetterberg, who will turn 38 in October, hasn’t missed a game in any of the past three seasons, but lingering back issues have put his availability in doubt. In a late July interview, head coach Jeff Blashill revealed that Zetterberg didn’t practice at all during the second half of the season because of his back problems.

“At this point, I haven’t heard anything from Henrik to say that he is or is not playing,” Blashill said. “The biggest thing with Henrik is, how healthy is Henrik? I know he spent the whole second half of last season not practicing because of his back. He ground it out because he is the ultimate warrior, one of the best I have ever been around, and was able to still be a real good player.

“But that continues to take a wear and tear on your body.”


Holland also mentioned Friday that Zetterberg didn’t practice at all at the end of the season, and said his off-season training hasn’t gone well either.

“I have talked to his agent a number of times over the course of the summer and I know he’s had a tough summer,” Holland said. “He hasn’t been able to train anywhere close to what he’s been able to train in past summers right now due to his back.”

For his part, Zetterberg indicated at the team’s locker clean out in April that he wanted to continue to play.

“For me it’s going to be the same as I’ve been doing the last couple of years,” Zetterberg said. “I will go into the off-season and try to have a good summer, work on my health, and hopefully I can come back and be better.”

Holland’s comments came on a conference call announcing that 22-year-old Dylan Larkin had signed a long-term contract with the team. If Zetterberg isn’t healthy enough to play, Larkin will be the centre counted on most to take on the veteran’s minutes.

“I know that he’s played through a lot of pain through his career,” Larkin said Friday. “It would definitely hurt losing him but he has to look after his future.”

Last season, Zetterberg had 11 goals and 56 points in 82 games, while still averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per game. In 1,082 games, all with the Red Wings, Zetterberg has 337 goals and 960 points, with another 57 goals and 120 points in 137 playoff games. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008.

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