Henrik Zetterberg out for rest of Sochi Olympics; can Sweden survive without captain?

Greg Wyshynski
February 14, 2014
Henrik Zetterberg
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Henrik Zetterberg #40 of Sweden celebrates with his teammates after a goal in the second period against Jakub Kovar #1 of Czech Republic during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group C game on day five of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SOCHI, Olympics – Talk about your Valentine’s Day heartbreak.

The injury news for Team Sweden went from bad to considerably worse on Friday, as captain Henrik Zetterberg will miss the remainder of the Sochi Olympics men’s ice hockey tournament with a herniated disc.

Zetterberg joins his Wings teammate Johan Franzen and Vancouver Canucks star Henrik Sedin as injured Swedish stars that are out of the Winter Games.

“He is still suffering from his back injury and it is so painful for him that he can't be in it any more. It is Z who has taken this decision together with me,” team doctor Bjorn Waldeback said on Friday. “I think it is the cumulative load. There was no specific thing that happened in the game. The issues came the morning after. These are nerve-related issues and they often come creeping in. It is not one specific injury.

Said Zetterberg to Aftonbladet (translated):

"It's unfortunately over for me. It's the same old [crap] as usual in the back. Only 20 times worse. I can not play and had to go home and have it looked at," he said.

"I felt a bit after the game against the Czech Republic , but no more than usual. But on Thursday, it got worse and worse and now it is twenty times worse than before."

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that Zetterberg had been taking medication for the back injury, attempting to keep the swelling down. He’s headed back to Detroit to be evaluated, but the outlook doesn’t sound rosy for the Wings:

"He's going to be down for period of time. No time frame until see specialist in Detroit.

“He won't be ready by the time we come out of Olympics.

"In fairness to Sweden, Red Wings and himself, he made right decision to pull out of Olympics."

(“In fairness to the Red Wings” is an interesting phrase, considering the situation with Holland and Pavel Datsyuk’s injury heading into Sochi.)

Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues likely slides into Zetterberg's spot.

We’re not sure how Sweden overcomes this. In Zetterberg and Henrik Sedin, that’s two top six forwards down, leaving the Swedes with essentially one line that puts an offensive scare into you.

That said, Sweden is the third deepest team in the tournament behind Canada and the U.S. Their mobile defense brings more offense than anyone else's. Their goaltender can be the best in the tournament when on. They’re not done; especially when Finland has its own injury issues and the rest of the field beyond the big three – Canada, the U.S. and Russia – is suspect.