As we all know an all time great Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg retired due to back issues. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 draft, and made his Red Wing debut in 2002. In addition he played in 1,082 games in his career and all came with the Wings. To show how much Zetterberg meant to this franchise here are some of his career numbers. He is fifth all time in goals for the Wings with 337 and totaled 960 points in his career. Our captain was so special because of his knack to contribute in the playoffs. He finished third in playoff goals for the franchise with 57. To finish summarizing his memorable career he did end up winning a Stanley Cup in 2008. He led the playoff run with 13 goals and ended up winning playoff MVP.
He took over the captain’s duties in 2012 just as I started to watch the Red Wings. Therefore, throughout my watching career Zetterberg was always my captain. It will be very weird to see the letter “C” on someone else’s sweater, but that means the future is coming. For me it was hard to see Henrik’s career end the way it did because of how much he did for the franchise. It was even hard for him to leave the game like that. He never complained about not getting captain when he was the best player on the Wings in 08, always put his team before himself, and led by example on the ice. As he left his prime the Wings named him captain. Even though he couldn’t put up the same numbers as before he was the veteran presence. Zetterberg was one of the most skillful passers in the NHL through his career. He had that sixth sense on the ice where he knew where others were. Obviously we all wish he could have crossed the 1,000 total points mark, but his number 40 will still be lifted to the rafters. He will go down as a Red Wing great which is an honor due to the success of the franchise years prior.
Zetterberg was due to be an unrestricted free agent in 2021 which would have been until he was 40 years old. He will be paid through LTIR, so his contract doesn’t count against the Red Wings hard cap. Overall this retirement is giving an opportunity to multiple left wings this preseason. Filip Zadina, Matt Puempel, and Jussi Jokinen all have an opportunity to make the roster. The huge question is whether the Red Wings send Zadina to Grand Rapids, or to the NHL. Preseason will say a lot to how the front office handles the team. There will never a better number 40 to play for the Red Wings.