When Daniel Alfredsson arrived in Detroit, I asked Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg if he was surprised to be on the same team as Alfredsson.
Zetterberg said he was completely shocked to be playing with Alfredsson on his "club team," which is how he referred to the Red Wings. Zetterberg then told me that he had played with Alfredsson on the "national team" and thought he was a tremendous acquisition for Detroit.
It was just a short exchange, but Zetterberg did tell me that he was looking forward to the upcoming Olympic Games because it was time for his generation of Swedish hockey players to lead.
That’s why I feel terrible that Zetterberg’s nagging back injury forced him to pull out of the Sochi Games. It was his moment to put the exclamation point on his career back home.
If reports are accurate, not only is the rest of Zetterberg’s NHL season in jeopardy, but his career could be too, depending on whether surgery is required to repair his herniated disk.
But let’s not jump to conclusions. As soon as he’s feeling better enough to travel on a plane, Zetterberg will return to Detroit and undergo a final evaluation that will determine the best course of treatment.
Until that time, there will be all kinds of speculation about what’s going on with Zetterberg. Let’s just wait and see.
This much I know: Zetterberg has a high tolerance for pain, so he must be in really bad shape or else he’d be on the Olympic ice.
Zetterberg’s one tough guy. His conduct on and off the ice is inspirational. It’s difficult for lesser players not to bust their tails and be model citizens when your best player is at the top of both of those lists.
Without Zetterberg and a hobbling Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings’ chances of extending their playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons appears unlikely.
Please don’t blame the Olympics, though.
Zetterberg’s back has been a trouble spot for years. It could have gone out at anytime.
And the Sochi Games are in Datsyuk’s Mother Russia, which is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him.
Athletes are often accused of being completely selfish. Zetterberg and Datsyuk, however, are nothing like that. Everything they do is geared toward the team and winning.
They’ve put it all out there for the Red Wings. If they want to go to the Olympics and represent their homelands, I’m all for it.
If you have a problem with it, ask yourself this question: Who’s being the selfish one?