Despite an exuberant first week, the Sochi Olympics hasn’t all been good news.
The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation announced yesterday that their captain Henrik Zetterberg will be out for the remainder of the Olympics due to a herniated disk that was aggravated during Wednesday’s game against the Czech Republic; a game in which Zetterberg scored in a 4-2 victory.
Sweden team Doctor Bjorn Waldeback said Friday, “When you suffer from a herniated disk the way he does, you need to go home for a medical evaluation.” It’s a matter of time before Zetterberg returns to the USA, albeit reluctantly, since he, like many NHLers had his heart set on representing his country in Sochi.
The Red Wings’ captain has already missed 13 regular NHL season games due to his lingering back pain and the gravity of the injury is best described by Wings’ management, who is reluctant to speculate on Zetterberg’s return after the NHL resumes on February 25th. According to Red Wings GM, Ken Holland, Zetterberg will be “down for a period of time,” and will not be available for the Red Wings first game after the break against division rivals Canadiens in Montreal on February 26th.
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Zetterberg is the Red Wings’ leading scorer by a wide margin, with 48 points in 45 games; next to him is defenseman Niklas Kronwall who has 36 points in 56 games. Losing Zetterberg for any significant amount of time will be a real blow to the Red Wings who are currently in the second wild card spot and the last playoff position available in the East.
Last year, a late-season push ensured the Red Wings made the playoffs for the 22nd straight year, the longest current post-season streak in the NHL. This year, the team’s 64 points has them six points behind the teams ahead of them in the standings, Toronto and Montreal that have 70 points each and the Tampa Bay Lightning that have 71 points. However, hot on their heels are the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals who have 63 points each and the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils each have 61 points. With 58 games played, the Red Wings have a game in hand on each of the teams above them in the standings, however it also means that they have just 24 games to ensure they keep their playoff streak alive.
It’s a devastating blow for the Swedish Olympic team, that is already dealing with injuries to Johan Franzen and Henrik Sedin. It’s heartbreaking news for Zetterberg who’s Olympic dreams are now over and who does not know when he will be well enough to contribute to his team in Detroit.
Right now, however, Zetterberg’s main focus will be on improving enough to head home since Waldeback confirmed that,at the moment, Zetterberg is in too much pain to fly. The medical team will continue to monitor his situation in the hopes that he can fly to the States in the next few days and get the treatment he needs in time to get back in the Red Wings’ lineup by March.
We wish a speedy recover to one of hockey’s most dynamic players.
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