Henrik Zetterberg’s career is over.
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced Friday that his long-time captain has been forced to step away from the game with a degenerative back condition, according to MLive’s Ansar Khan.
Zetterberg is scheduled to cost the Red Wings just over $6 million for the next three seasons, though his price in real dollars has been slashed significantly with what remains on his heavily front-loaded 12-year contract originally signed back in 2009. It appears he will continue to earn that reduced real-dollar salary for the time-being, as Holland announced that he’s targeted for long-term injury reserve rather than an official retirement.
No doubt the timing will draw speculation around league circles. Zetterberg is stepping away with just $5.35 million left to earn on a contract that carried a $73 million original value, making him a possible trade target for rebuilding teams looking to reach the salary floor and the means to potentially open up cap space for Holland and the Wings.
While a handful of holdovers remain from Detroit’s last Stanley Cup win, Zetterberg’s unofficial retirement in many ways marks the end of the glory years for the once-great Red Wings, who made the postseason for 25 straight seasons under an ongoing transfer of leadership from Steve Yzerman to Nicklas Lidstrom, and most recently Zetterberg.
Zetterberg played each of his 15 seasons in Detroit. He scored 337 goals and racked up 960 points in 1,082 games. He had another 120 points in 137 playoff games and won the Conn Smythe Trophy with his lone Stanley Cup triumph in 2008.
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