Zetterberg is 'real unknown' for Red Wings, GM Ken Holland says

Red Wings captain battling back injury

Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings looks on against the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on December 2, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 10-1. (Photo by…

DETROIT - It's unclear if Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will be ready to play this upcoming season. 

That's according to Red Wings GM Ken Holland who told reporters Friday that Zetterberg is a "real unknown" due to his health. Zetterberg's back problems have been well document since 2014 when he missed the end of the season after undergoing surgery. 

"I am anxious to know where Henrik Zetterberg is at," Holland said. "Certainly he's a bit of an unknown in terms of health. He didn't practice basically for 2 to 2 and 1/2 months of the season, he just played games."

Zetterberg, 37, is under contract with the Red Wings until 2021. He reportedly told Swedish newspapers last year that he didn't plan to finish that contract. That may be more of a reality due to his health issues. 

"I know he's had a tough summer," said Holland. "He hasn't been able to train anywhere close to where he's been able to train in past summers due to his back. So there's a real unknown right now with Henrik Zetterberg ... I want to get to camp and I want to see if Henrik Zetterberg is healthy."

Holland was addressing cap space issues in a conference call with reporters when the topic moved to Zetterberg's health. If the veteran forward is unable to play, Holland may be looking to place him on long-term injured reserve to clear more cap space. The team is a bit over the cap right now, especially after signing forward Dylan Larkin to a new five-year contract

Zetterberg has played 1,082 games for Detroit, scoring 337 goals and 623 assists. Despite his health issues he still scored 56 points in 82 games last season -- he didn't miss a game. Holland said Zetterberg told coach Jeff Blashill in January or February that he shouldn't practice and only play in games. He finished out the season without practicing. 

Red Wings training camp starts Sept. 14. 

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