Detroit – The Red Wings aren’t sure if captain Henrik Zetterberg will return next season.
They believe he will, given Zetterberg’s comments on locker cleanout day in April, although Zetterberg couched things by saying the condition of his back will ultimately determine his decision.
But general manager Ken Holland said Sunday during a teleconference he wasn’t sure of Zetterberg’s plans.
“The last I talked to him, he’s planning on playing,” Holland said. “Obviously his back is going to determine whether he can or can’t. Do I have a clear green light (as to whether Zetterberg is returning)? I’m expecting him to play. Do I have a clear green light? No.”
Zetterberg, who will be 38 on Oct. 9, has played all 82 games the last three seasons, but this past season missed numerous practices to keep the back in condition to play.
Zetterberg missed the 2014 Olympics because of back problems, which required surgery.
“When you’re dealing with the back, and you’re dealing with the health of a person, it’s hard to read the future when it comes to health,” said Holland, who will keep in touch with Zetterberg throughout this month.
Zetterberg has three years left on a 12-year contract he signed in 2009, worth $73 million (salary cap hit is $6.083 million). But the actual salary he’d earn next season is $3.35 million – and $1 million in each of the following two seasons.
The Wings could place Zetterberg on long-term injured reserve, giving the organization some salary cap relief.
But don’t expect Zetterberg to retire, given the Wings would face a cap recapture penalty of more than $4 million for the next three seasons.