DETROIT – Henrik Zetterberg's career with the Detroit Red Wings started in 2002.
It was the year after the Red Wings' infamous dream team -- with the likes of Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille -- won the Stanley Cup. Zetterberg came into the veteran lineup as a fresh-faced kid from Sweden. He was drafted in the 7th round in 1999, and no one had a clue who he was.
But the 22-year-old forward quickly made a name for himself as a speedy forward with superb play-making abilities. He scored 22 goals and 22 assists in his rookie season as he fought for ice time on an otherwise stacked Red Wings roster. Soon, he would be paired up with Pavel Datsyuk, who had arrived in Detroit the year before.
The "Euro Twins," as they became known, would dazzle hockey fans for the next decade. At times they appeared to have some sort of telepathic communication. Zetterberg's speed and voracity with the puck mixed with Datsyuk's unmatched skill and strength powered the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup championship in 2008. Zetterberg had a career high 43 goals and 92 points that season, and another 27 points in 22 playoff games. Without hesitation he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs.
Datysuk and "Z" nearly won a second-straight Stanley Cup in 2009, only to fall short in the final series to Sidney Crobsy's Pittsburgh Penguins.
By 2010, Zetterberg's beard was a Detroit icon, and fans would hardly recognize the young, clean-shaven kid from Njurunda, Sweden. He was known as a quiet leader, much like Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom. So it was fitting Zetterberg was named Red Wings captain upon Lidstrom's departure in 2012.
His later years would be marred by a debilitating back injury, but the casual fan could hardly notice. Although Zetterberg's goal scoring declined, he routinely led the Red Wings in points each season. He remained one of the most impactful players on the ice each night, still logging huge minutes, winning crucial faceoffs and scoring at the most important times.
Off the ice, Zetterberg was recognized for his work with children, education and healthcare. His Henrik Zetterberg Foundation, which he operates with his wife, landed him the NHL's King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2015 for leadership qualities on and off the ice and humanitarian contributions to his community.
Overall, Zetterberg played 1,082 games for the Red Wings, scoring 337 goals and 623 assists for a total 960 points. Perhaps more impressive are his playoff statistics -- 57 goals and 63 assists for 120 points in 137 games played. The best players always seem to be even better when more is on the line, and Zetterberg was no exception.
In the illustrious history of the Red Wings, Zetterberg falls at No. 5 all-time for regular season points behind only Gordie Howe, Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Lidstrom. His 120 playoff points also are No. 5 all time for the Red Wings.
Make no mistake: Zetterberg is Hall of Fame-bound and his No. 40 most certainly will be hanging in the rafters at Little Caesars Arena.