Henrik Zetterberg is unable to continue playing in the NHL, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Friday.
Holland told the Red Wings website that Zetterberg no longer can play because of his degenerative back condition, and consulted doctors, who said there was nothing they could do.
The 37-year-old center was not expected to open training camp and the start of the regular season with the Red Wings, but he and his teammates were hopeful he would be able to return at some point this season.
“I’ve only been able to rehab, but no training. I tried, but the pain made it impossible,” Zetterberg told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Aug. 28. “The tricks I used to dampen the pain in previous summers did not help this time. … I’ve not been able to train properly, and I can’t play NHL games without being well-prepared, especially not at my age.”
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‘s 63 points (16 goals, 47 assists).
“Obviously he struggled training and hasn’t felt his back is where it needs to be to be able to play,” forward Gustav Nyquist said Sept. 6. “It’s got to be a lot of wear and tear and it’s impressive what he’s done to play all these games.”
Zetterberg, who was selected by Detroit in the seventh round (No. 210) of the 1999 NHL Draft, is fifth in goals (337), assists (623) and points (960) in Red Wings history, and his 1,082 games are sixth. He helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2008, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy after tying Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby for the playoff scoring lead with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists).
He has three seasons remaining on a 12-year contract signed Jan. 28, 2009.
“He’s been a leader on and off the ice,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “He’s not a guy you can just replace.”
After having back surgery Feb. 21, 2014, Zetterberg played 77 games in 2014-15 and has played all 82 games the past three seasons.