Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has been bothered by a herniated disc since December. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — The Red Wings might be without captain Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the regular season.
Zetterberg underwent surgery Friday to remove part of a disc and could be out for as much as two months.
A part of the disc had been rubbing against, and irritating, a nearby nerve.
Losing Zetterberg will be a blow to the Red Wings’ offense. He leads the team with 48 points, 16 goals and 32 assists in only 44 games.
The loss of Zetterberg for any length of time could largely impact the Red Wings' chances for a playoff berth.
The Red Wings have reached the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons, the fifth-longest streak in NHL history and the longest active streak in North American professional sports leagues.
At the current Olympic break, the Red Wings own the second wild-card spot with 64 points. But Columbus, Ottawa and Washington all trail by one point (63), with Carolina and New Jersey two points behind (61).
Thirteen of the Red Wings' remaining 24 games are on the road.
Ryan Martin, Red Wings assistant general manager, said the estimate for Zetterberg returning to the lineup is approximately six to eight weeks.
The NHL regular season resumes Wednesday and concludes April 13.
"Everything went very well," Martin said of Zetterberg's procedure. "This was something that needed to be done for the short-term and long-term, and should benefit Henrik. It's going to relieve him of the symptoms that he had been experiencing.
"It was basically what they thought the problem was (all along)."
Zetterberg has been bothered by a herniated disc since December. He missed 11 games in December with pain in his back, but returned in time to play two games before the Jan. 1 Winter Classic.
Zetterberg consistently stayed in the lineup until missing two games in late January.
He was named captain of Team Sweden for the Winter Olympics, and played the first game in Sochi, Russia, before experiencing what he called pain "20 times worse" than before.
Zetterberg, 33, has had issues with his back before.
He missed 19 games in 2006-07 with an inflamed disc, seven games in 2007-08 with back spasms and a sore back, and three games in 2008-09 with back spasms.
"They (the doctors) feel this procedure will help in alleviating any long-term issues," Martin said. "Everyone is real confident."
Zetterberg flew back Thursday from Sochi.
Zetterberg will be placed on the long-term injured reserve list, which could help the Red Wings in terms of acquiring someone before the March 5 trade deadline, freeing up salary cap room.
What roster decisions loom with Zetterberg out of the lineup remain to be seen.
The Red Wings hope Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and Johan Franzen (concussion) will both be ready when the NHL regular season resumes for the Red Wings on Wednesday in Montreal.
Both players have practiced with the team this week, but neither has yet been cleared to play. Weiss will play for the Red Wings' minor league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday on a conditioning basis.
The availability of Franzen and Weiss largely will dicatate what the Red Wings do with Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan, all of whom will practice with the Red Wings for now, but could be bound for Grand Rapids.
Martin said Pavel Datsyuk will return to practice with the Red Wings on Tuesday.
Datsyuk had been bothered with a knee injury up until returning for the last two regular season games in Florida, before departing for the Winter Olympics in his native Russia.
Datsyuk, who captained Russia, played well in the tournament despite Russia being eliminated in the quarterfinals.