Columbus, Ohio — Henrik Zetterberg sounds like he knew, but he wasn’t going to let out the secret.
When twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin announced Monday they plan to retire after this season, it was a mild shock throughout the NHL.
“I’ve known for a while,” Zetterberg said, after Tuesday’s morning skate, speaking of his two good friends and fellow 1999 draft picks. “Knowing them for as long as I have, playing against them in Sweden before they took the step forward here, as good as players as they were, they’re even better persons.
“I’ll remember the time I had with them and against them.”
Talk of the Sedins’ retirement naturally will shift the focus on Zetterberg, who has two years left on his contract. At 37, Zetterberg is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Zetterberg is second on the Red Wings with 50 points, including 40 assists — both totals trailing Dylan Larkin (59 points, 45 assists).
Zetterberg is on pace to also, for the third consecutive season, play all 82 games in the regular season.
This, after back surgery in 2014 forced him out of the Olympics and cut into his regular season.
“For me, it’s going to be the same as I’ve been doing the last couple of years,” Zetterberg said. “I’ll go in the offseason and try to have a good summer, work on my health and hopefully I can come back and be better.”
Zetterberg has mentioned several times in recent weeks how important it’s been for him to remain in the lineup as much as he has in recent years, after the back surgery.
“That’s been one of my goals, to be able to play as many games as possible,” Zetterberg said. “But in the same way, you want to be able to do something, too. You don’t just want to put on skates, you want to be able to produce and help the team.
“I felt last year was a good year. Maybe it hasn’t been as good this year.”
And despite missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, the game remains fun for Zetterberg.
“It’s no fun losing but I still have a lot of fun playing hockey and being around this group of guys,” Zetterberg said. “It would be a lot more fun if we’d still be playing after this weekend, (but) in making a decision (about the future) I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
“Health is the key. If I’m not healthy, it’s over.”
Coach Jeff Blashill added his tribute for the Sedin twins, noting in some way the brothers were somewhat underrated as to how they impacted the NHL.
“They in a lot of ways probably changed a lot of things in the game,” Blashill said. “You see all these short-side pass-outs from behind the net, that’s something they started.
“They way they cycled the puck was amazing. I have just unreal respect for them. (They) probably never totally got the credit they deserved (and that’s) totally, totally wrong. You ask any of the players in the NHL, and they’re two of the best players to have played here in their time.
“They were tough.”
Goalie Jared Coreau was supposed to start Tuesday’s game in Columbus but came down with flu-like symptoms, so Jimmy Howard was to get the start. Tom McCollum was recalled from Grand Rapids to serve as Howard’s backup.
… Coreau, defenseman Joe Hicketts and forward Evgeny Svechnikov will be sent back to Grand Rapids once the season ends, so they’ll compete in the AHL playoffs. A determination will be made on forward Tyler Bertuzzi, said Blashill, who could use the time to rest and get stronger for next season.
… Justin Abdelkader’s first NHL game was 10 years ago Tuesday, and it also was against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“Crazy,” Abdelkader said. “How fast time has gone. Guys always tell you to enjoy it because it goes so quick. It feels like yesterday.”