Though he hasn’t officially decided to call it a career yet, Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has been on his last legs for a while now.
And with two weeks remaining until training camp begins in Traverse City on September 14, Zetterberg has yet to train this offseason. On Tuesday, he indicated that he wouldn’t be ready for the start of training camp, and maybe much longer.
“I will need more answers from doctors before I say I have played my last game,” he said. “In my mind, I am hoping it can get solved.
“I don’t want to think I have played my last game. To me, it’s still early to say that. But obviously, I’ve been through this for the last few years, and I know it’s a thin line.”
Following back surgery in 2014, Zetterberg was able to play three full seasons afterwards, appearing in all 82 games during those years.
“Every time I try to amp up my workouts, I get symptoms again,” Zetterberg said. “Surgery is not an option. Since February, it has slowly gotten worse — things like nerve pain down your legs, disc-related issues. I was able to find a way to get through it, but it has slowly gotten worse.
“I need someone to tell me I can’t play hockey anymore.”
He’s shown that despite the lingering back woes, he’s still capable of putting up points. His 56 points last season were second only to Dylan Larkin’s 63. But he indicated that since February, it’s especially been a struggle.
“I know the last few years it has not been perfect,” Zetterberg said. “There has been a few times when I think I am getting closer. I know something was wrong since February.
“My everyday life is pretty good. It’s as soon as I try to do something uncontrolled, that’s when things start to get a little iffy. And there isn’t any more procedures to do on my back. The next thing is fusion, and you want to wait until you are 50 or 60 to do that.”
With three years remaining on his contract, Detroit would get some financial cap relief by placing him on long-term injured reserve.