Holland: Zetterberg will be ready for season-opener

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin

Detroit – Henrik Zetterberg told the Red Wings he may be late to training camp in Traverse City this month, but will likely not miss the start of the regular season after hurting a knee during offseason training.

Team Sweden announced Thursday that Zetterberg, who played in all 82 regular-season games last season for the Wings, would forego the World Cup of Hockey, beginning Sept. 17 in Toronto.

“I talked to Henrik a couple of days this week,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He injured his knee training for the upcoming season, the World Cup tournament and the NHL season.

“He made a decision, obviously, yesterday that where his knee is at, he’s not able to compete in the World Cup.

“He told me he doesn’t think it is significant.”

Wing trainer Piet Van Zant is scheduling an MRI, Holland said, likely for Thursday or Friday.

“Henrik told me he’ll be ready for the start of the season in October (13th, away, vs. Lightning).  He’s not sure if he’ll be ready for the start of (Sept. 23) training camp, or not.

“He needs to see, over the next couple of weeks, how his knee responds.”

According to a translation of a reported interview with Sportbladet in Sweden, Zetterberg said the knee malfunctions. He tried to work with it, but an MRI he took Wednesday made clear he should not persist.

Zetterberg said he hurt it working out at a gym.

He said it is a major disappointment, especially because he was unable to play for Sweden in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when Canada beat Sweden in the gold medal game, 3-0.

Zetterberg, who turns 36 in October, said he realized the 2016 World Cup might be his last chance for international competition.

“But that is what it is,” Zetterberg said in the report. “One is not 20 any longer, and the body decides. One must listen to it."

Zetterberg joins Niklas Kronwall, 35, in deciding not to play for Sweden in the World Cup due to concerns about knees.

Kronwall’s play slowed perceptibly last season.

Holland said last month, according to reports, that the veteran defenseman is feeling better but still has some soreness and hopes he will be better for the start of training camp.

Tomas Jurco also injured himself in offseason training, had surgery on his back, and is to miss about four to six weeks, likely delaying his start at camp.

Holland said he has not discussed with Zetterberg the details of what he was doing in training when the injury occurred.

“He didn’t think much of it, he said, but it continued to persist,” Holland said.

“He skated here on Tuesday. I saw him Monday at the Red Wings golf outing (the annual affair for Ilitch Charities) and here on Tuesday.”

Zetterberg played golf during the event.

“His plan was to bring his family, set them up here, go back to the World Cup training camp in Sweden on Sunday,” Holland said. “He skated on Tuesday. I saw him talking to Piet Van Zant after practice, and they told me at that time Henrik had injured his knee.”

Zetterberg is “incredibly disappointed” not to represent Sweden in the World Cup, Holland said.

It is a second consecutive major international tournament Zetterberg will miss, after a debilitating back injury saw him essentially hauled out of the athletes’ village at the 2014 Winter Olympics on a stretcher.

The loss of Zetterberg and Kronwall leaves Sweden without two veteran mainstays, and likely the feeling that the torch is being passed to a new generation of international players.

Zetterberg is a three-time member of Sweden’s World Championship teams (2002, 2003 and 2005) and a gold medalist at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

He and Kronwall are members of the so-called Triple Gold Club, having won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a world championship.

“It’s always on honor to represent your country in a best-on-best, whether it’s the Olympics or a World Cup,” Holland said. “You know, he’s 35. You don’t know how many opportunities you get to represent your country. So, I know this was an incredibly difficult decision that he had to make.

“He felt that with the knee injury, he wasn’t going to be able to perform at the level he needs to perform at, to represent his country. But, again, he thinks it’s not long term or significant.”

Holland indicated that until the results of the MRI are available and Zetterberg has some time to mend, it is difficult to predict his availability.

“I have no idea whether he would be available for the start of training camp or not,” Holland said. “With the NHL schedule, given that the regular seasons is seven weeks away, before we play our first game, he seems to be confident that he thought he’d be ready to go 100 percent for the start of the regular season in the middle of October.

“Obviously, the body needs some time to heal.”

Zetterberg won a Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Red Wings, scoring the winning goal to defeat the Penguins.

He succeeded Nicklas Lidstrom as captain in 2012.

He was a runner-up for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2003, after winning the Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year in 2001.

In 916 career regular-season games with the Red Wings, he has 309 goals and 527 assists, for 836 points. And in 137 career playoff games, he has 57 goals and 63 assists, for 120 points.


Twitter: @greggkrupa