With the signing of Detroit Red Wings star forward Dylan Larkin on Friday the Red Wings effectively wrapped up the 2018 offseason for their organization and that left just one question on the minds of fans in Detroit. Will captain Henrik Zetterberg play this season or will the captain hang up his skates and call it a career after 15 seasons in the National Hockey League, all of them with the Red Wings.
There has been rampant speculation about the future of Zetterberg this summer as reports have surfaced suggesting that a linger back injury caused him a great deal of pain during the 2017 - 2018 NHL regular season and that it has continued to hamper him in the offseason as well. On Friday we got our first real update on the status of Zetterberg from an official source when general manager Ken Holland addressed the media.
"I have talked to his agent a number of times over the course of the summer, and I know he's had a tough summer," Holland said as per the NHL's official website. "He hasn't been able to train anywhere near close to where he's been able to train in past summers due to his back. So there is a real unknown right now with Henrik Zetterberg.
Needless to say this is a very bad update as far as a potential return to action for Zetterberg is concerned and it's yet another sign that there is now a very real possibility that Zetterberg may have already played his final game as a Red Wing. In spite of the troubling signs for Zetterberg though Holland still seems to believe that his long time star forward will return for one more year, although even he admitted that thus far Zetterberg is not in any condition to play.
"Obviously his back is going to determine whether he can or he can't," he said. "Do I have a clear green light? I'm expecting him to play. Do I have a clear green light? No, I don't know that I've got a clear green light."
In spite of his lingering injury, one that Holland admitted had prevented Zetterberg from practicing for the final 2 1/2 months of the season, Zetterberg was still able to produce offensively for Detroit last season. He appeared in all 82 games for the team and picked up 11 goals and 45 assists for a total of 56 points, not bad when you consider that he is already 37 years of age. Teammate Dylan Larkin certainly seems to still believe in him but Larkin also left Zetterberg an out.
"I know he's played through a lot of pain in his career and he's done so much for our team and city," Larkin said. "But for our team, he's going to help our team no matter what, if he's playing with one leg or whatever. He's one of the most skilled players I've played with and a great leader. I think he's the best player on our team, so I think it would definitely hurt losing him. But he does have to look after his future."
At the end of the day no Red Wings' fan would want Zetterberg to play one more season if it were to ruin the quality of life he has down the line, and I'm sure fans will support him regardless of the decision he makes this summer. Thus far though things do not look promising.