By Bob Duff
After Henrik Zetterberg scored just two goals over the final 29 games of the 2014-15 season, the murmurs began.
When Zetterberg went through an entire Stanley Cup playoff series without scoring for the first time since he entered the NHL in 2002, the whispers grew stronger. Had Zetterberg’s odometer reached the point where it was time to trade him in for a newer model?
Nope. He just needed more fuel in the tank.
Zetterberg missed much of the second half of 2013-14 after undergoing back surgery following the Sochi Olympics, and the lingering treatment ultimately ground him to a halt. “When I came into last season, it was real exciting because I had been out for a while,” Zetterberg said. “I felt healthy, so going into the season there was a lot of excitement.”
Once the adrenaline wore off, the reality that Zetterberg spent a summer rehabbing his injured back and not partaking in his regular off-season regimen of preparation for the season would eventually exact a toll upon his body. “I hit the wall in January and never came back,” Zetterberg said. “This off-season was better workout-wise, and hopefully it’ll transition more into a steadier season.”
The early returns are positive. Instead of worrying about an old Zetterberg, the Detroit Red Wings captain, who turned 35 in October, looks a lot like the Zetterberg of old.
Already this season, Zetterberg has notched his 300th NHL goal, 500th assist and 800th point. He joined Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Sergei Fedorov as players with 300 goals and 800 points with Detroit. At the all-star break, Zetterberg has 33 points in 49 games.
“He’s really strong on the puck,” said teammate Tomas Tatar. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the NHL as strong as him.”
You could call this Zetterberg’s summer of love. His wife, Emma, gave birth to their first child, a son they named Love. “We knew if it was going to be a boy that Love was going to be the name early,” Zetterberg said. “It’s an old Swedish name and kind of getting popular again. I understand the confusion if you see the spelling in an American way, but you pronounce it Loo-veh in Swedish.”
Seems Love came into Zetterberg’s life, and he’s found the love in his game again.