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Thread: Zetterberg Forced to Retire Due to Back Issue

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    Zetterberg Forced to Retire Due to Back Issue

    https://www.nhl.com/redwings/news/ze...on/c-300115740

    TRAVERSE CITY -- Only Henrik Zetterberg, his teammates, coaches and trainers really know what it took for him to play in all 82 games last season.

    No one realized it at the time, but those were the final games of the Detroit Red Wings captain's 15-year career.

    On Friday at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, as Zetterberg's teammates took the ice for the first day of training camp, the team officially announced that Zetterberg was calling it a career due to a degenerative back condition that has worsened.

    Zetterberg went to New York late last week to meet with Dr. Frank Cammisa, the Chief Emeritus of the Spine Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, the doctor who had performed his back surgery in 2014.

    After taking new pictures of Zetterberg's back and comparing them with the past ones, Dr. Cammisa consulted with Dr. Doug Plagens, the Wings team doctor.

    "For me, I've kind of been living this for a while," Zetterberg said. "Starting in January last year I knew something was not quite right. I found a way to play through that season but kind of mid-summer here when we hoped it was going to get a little bit better and it kind of wasn't. I went to see Dr. Camissa last week and got the final result and nothing really had changed, so that's kind of when it kicked in.

    "Obviously, it is emotional. It's been 15 years here. Even though I knew I was on my last couple years, I wish that I could have played a little bit longer."

    Because the condition is degenerative, general manager Ken Holland said that there is no solution that would have allowed Zetterberg to safely continue to play.

    "Part of the degenerative condition is significant arthritis," Holland said. "Nothing can be done, no back surgery, no rehab, no more time off is going to have any positive impact. Obviously if he plays professional hockey, it's going to accelerate the degeneration and if he does get a bad hit or something, then he's risking a significant back surgery. Henrik has decided that his quality of life is more important than taking the risk of back surgery."

    Because Holland and coach Jeff Blashill had known for months that this was the likely scenario, it wasn't as emotional a day as it was at the end of the season.

    "Nothing changed from January, February to April, and then after having two months off with doing nothing, nothing changed," Holland said. "It became apparent as we headed towards July the 1st that we were heading in this direction. Again, you're always hoping that you're going to wake up one day in the middle of July and the phone's going to ring and it's Z saying, 'You know what, I feel pretty good. I was in the gym every day for a week and I'm going to kind of take this on a test run.' But that call never came. So I would say to you, you're holding out hope but we certainly realized that this was the direction that we were heading towards."

    Zetterberg, whose young son Love just started school last week, said he and his family will remain in metro Detroit for now but he doesn't know what the future holds yet.

    He was asked if he was disappointed or at peace with his decision.

    "Both," Zetterberg said. "I'm happy with what I've accomplished but in the same way I'd have loved to play playoff hockey last year but didn't get that chance. We have a really interesting group of guys here, young guys that we saw the last few years have been taking steps. It would be fun to be with them a little bit longer but I'm just going to watch and support."

    Zetterberg said he felt pretty good earlier last season but things started going downhill in January and he told Blashill he would not be able to practice.

    It's somewhat miraculous he was able to play every game and be as good as he was.

    "You have good people around you that fix you up," Zetterberg said. "Also, it becomes normal. You learn a lot about yourself, learn a lot about your body, you know what to do to get a little bit better and find a way to get out there."

    While his best playing days were behind him as the injury and Father Time took their toll, Zetterberg remained an extremely effective player.

    Zetterberg was second on the team in points with 56 behind Dylan Larkin's 63 and was one of just five plus players at plus-1.

    "He's a massive hole for a variety of reasons," Holland said. "I think last year he was the fifth leading forward in terms of minutes 5-on-5 in the National Hockey League last year. Obviously played all 82 games. Somebody has to eat up all those minutes. It's not only those minutes. We're trying to go younger and we're going to move some more young people, you need role models and there's no better role model than Henrik Zetterberg."

    Holland said the void that Zetterberg leaves will be felt off the ice as well.

    "The other thing that he did, and obviously it was a tough year last year, when the game was over, as you all know, whenever we had a loss, he's there, he's a stand-up guy and he was answering all the questions on behalf of the team," Holland said. "He's not there now, somebody else when we lose a game is going to have to answer the questions. It might be some of the younger guys. When you're a young player, you're really just trying to figure out how to be a good player and get better versus answering questions for the entire team."

    While Love will no doubt be thrilled to have his dad around more, Zetterberg said his wife Emma will probably have mixed emotions.

    "I think Detroit Red Wings have been such a big part of our life for the last 15 years for me, 11 for her," Zetterberg said. "We've been spending basically our grown-up life over here. We have an American son, so it is mixed, but she has seen me go through what I've gone through. I think she's happy I don't have to do that but in the same way also she knows I want to play and so she probably wanted me to play, too."

    Although he wishes he could have played longer, Zetterberg won't have any regrets about his career, which includes winning a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy in 2008.

    "I didn't see myself lasting those long probably, when I got drafted back in '99 as a seventh-round pick," Zetterberg said. "Been through all the good things and some low things during my career but being in one organization for the whole time, being named the captain of this organization, that's something special. So there's a lot of things. It'll probably kick in a little bit later when you look back to it. Now it's just kind of surreal standing here and talking about I'm done playing. But I've been through a lot, played with some great teammates, had some great teams throughout the years. In '08 winning the Cup probably is the highlight, but also I thought we had some great teams around that, too. In '09 I thought we were close, too. I would say all the guys I played with through the years, had some special bonds with a lot of players."

    On the Red Wings' all-time list, Zetterberg finishes sixth in games played with 1,082, fifth in goals with 337, fifth in assists with 623, fifth in points with 960, sixth in plus-minus at plus-160, seventh in even-strength goals with 228, eighth in power-play goals with 100, fifth in game-winning goals with 64 and fourth in shots with 3,455.

    It likely won't be long before the Wings raise No. 40 into the rafters at Little Caesars Arena.

    While the Red Wings now prepare to move forward into a future that does not include Zetterberg, Holland made it clear where the captain stands in his eyes.

    "I think he's one of the greatest Red Wing players in our history," Holland said. "He's got (960) points, he's played almost 1,100 games, he's almost a point-a-game player in the playoffs. When you go to the history of the Red Wings, I think he's sixth or seventh in all-time this, all-time points, this and that, so he's one of the greatest Red Wing players in my opinion in the history of this franchise. In 2005, obviously coming out of the work stoppage, Steve Yzerman was 40ish and Shanahan and Fedorov, basically Lidstrom and Zetterberg and Datsyuk carried this franchise for another decade.

    "He carried the torch. Obviously when Nick Lidstrom retired, he became the captain, so he's one of the greatest Red Wing players in my opinion of this storied franchise."

  2. #2
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    I think a lot of people knew this was coming based on what has been said over the summer. It sucks seeing somebody being forced to retire because of health reasons instead of going out on their own terms. I saw his final game and didn't know it.

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    Zetterberg unable to continue NHL career with Red Wings

    Fifth-leading scorer in Detroit history has degenerative back condition


    Henrik Zetterberg said Friday he is unable to continue his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings because of a degenerative back condition.

    The 37-year-old center had not been expected to open training camp Friday or the regular season with the Red Wings, but he and his teammates hoped he would be able to play at some point this season.

    After a consultation last week in New York with Dr. Frank Camissa, who performed back surgery on Zetterberg on Feb. 21, 2014, the 15-season NHL veteran and 2008 Stanley Cup winner decided he could no longer play.

    "I've kind of been living this for a while," Zetterberg said at Red Wings camp in Traverse City, Michigan.

    "Starting [in] January last year, I knew something was not quite right and [I] found a way to play through that season, but kind of midsummer here ... we hoped it was going to get a little bit better, and it kind of wasn't. So I went to see Dr. Cammisa last week and got the final result and nothing really had changed. so that's kind of when it kicked in.

    "Obviously it is emotional. It's been 15 years here, and even though I knew that I was on my last couple of years, I wish that I could play a little bit longer."

    Zetterberg, who has been Detroit's captain since the 2012-13 season, was second on the Red Wings with 56 points (11 goals, 45 assists) in 82 games last season, behind forward Dylan Larkin (63 points; 16 goals, 47 assists).

    "Henrik has made a decision that he's not prepared to taker the risk to play professional hockey anymore," said general manager Ken Holland, who said Zetterberg's condition includes significant arthritis. "Nothing can be done. No back surgery, no rehab, no more time off is going to have any positive impact, and if he plays professional hockey, it's going to accelerate the degeneration, and if he does get a bad hit or something, he's risking significant back surgery, and Henrik has decided his quality of life is more important."

    Selected by Detroit in the seventh round (No. 210) of the 1999 NHL Draft, Zetterberg is fifth in goals (337), assists (623) and points (960) in Red Wings history, and sixth in games (1,082). He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2008 after tying Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby for the postseason scoring lead with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists).

    "I didn't see myself lasting this long when I got drafted in 1999 as a seventh-round pick," Zetterberg said. "I've had some great things [happen], and some low things, but being with one organization for my whole career and being named a captain of this organization, that's obviously something special.

    "There's a lot of things I'll think about later when I can look back. Right now, it is surreal saying I'm not going to be playing anymore."

    Holland, who said he isn't sure if Detroit will have a captain this season, said Zetterberg will leave a void on and off the ice.

    "We're trying to go younger, and we're moving up some young players," Holland said, "but you need role models and there's no better role model than Henrik Zetterberg."
    The Red Wings players expect things to be noticeably different without him.

    "It's going to be weird, to be honest with you," 37-year-old defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has played all 14 of his NHL seasons with Zetterberg, told the Red Wings website. "It's going to be tough to wrap your head around it. Sure, we found out the news now, but knowing the reality, and seeing how he works every day, without him in the locker room it's going to be weird. He's been there all these years, ever since I got here. He's always been the backbone of the team and now you're losing a guy like that."

    Detroit center Dylan Larkin, 22, told the website, "Every day there was a new lesson I learned from him. … Without him, it's going to be a lot different. He's our leader, he's our captain."

    Zetterberg, who has three seasons remaining on a 12-year contract he signed Jan. 28, 2009, will be placed on long-term injured reserve, Holland said.

    After his 2014 back surgery, Zetterberg played 77 games in 2014-15 and played all 82 games each of the past three seasons. He said there were several mornings last season when he didn't think he was going to be able to play. He stopped practicing in January.

    "I wasn't sure if he was going to try to battle through or how bad it hurts," said Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar, Zetterberg's teammate for seven seasons in Detroit, including last season. "He's a legend, he played there for a really, really long time. He taught me a lot of things so I have a lot of respect for that guy and he made me become a better person, that's for sure.

    "He is a really good centerman.

    He's been a great leader, a great guy in the locker room, and obviously it's a tough loss and that's just the way sometimes hockey goes. You're losing a player but health always goes first and you just have to deal with it."
    Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, "I've got a lot of respect for Henrik and what he meant to the Red Wings, to the game, to the sport. ... He's one of those players, his intelligence was off the charts. He could protect the puck as well as anybody and did a lot of things for the Red Wings organization.

    I wish him nothing but the best and I wish him good health."
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

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    This, truly sucks, best of luck to Z, thanks for some awesome moments.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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