By Ashley Dunkak
JOE LOUIS ARENA (CBS DETROIT) – It all makes Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg a little jealous. As he continues rehabilitating after undergoing back surgery in late February, the venerable Swede misses being out on the ice, especially with Detroit pushing for the postseason, which to hear Zetterberg tell it may as well be Christmas.
“This is the best time of the year,” Zetterberg said Wednesday. “You want to make the playoffs more than anything. Playoffs is the best time of the year … I don’t like [to] sit and watch from the outside, so the games are pretty tough.”
Whether Zetterberg will be able to help Detroit if the team can extend its 22-year postseason streak remains to be seen. He did not rule out coming back in the playoffs, though he said it would be premature to try to pinpoint for what round he could return. Getting back for the postseason however, is the ultimate goal.
“I want to play hockey again this year,” Zetterberg said. “Obviously that will be sometime around the playoffs … The rehab goes as planned. I’ve been moving a lot more the last two weeks. Just going to take it step by step. So far no hiccups, and I hope it’s going to stay that way.”
Zetterberg has been unavailable since before the Olympic break, where he played in Sweden’s first game before succumbing to a herniated disk. He had missed most of Detroit’s games in December but had played throughout January, so he was not worried about his health heading into Sochi.
“Going into the Olympics, I felt great, excited to go, played that game, felt fine there,” Zetterberg said. “Woke up, next day, different feeling.”
Five or six days later, the discomfort had finally subsided enough for him to fly back, and Zetterberg had surgery shortly afterward. He said he could tell a positive difference immediately.
However, he still has quite a way to go before he could be ready to play in games for the Red Wings.
“The timeline is eight weeks without contact,” Zetterberg said. “That’s what the doctors say and that’s what we’re going to stick with, and then we’ll kind of reevaluate after that. I think that’s around April 18, 19, there. That’s eight weeks from surgery. Then we’ve just got to see where I am.”
Zetterberg saw a doctor for the back problem in December, and at that time it was determined he did not need surgery, though they knew a procedure could possibly be required down the road. Zetterberg said he does not expect the back problem or subsequent surgery to negatively impact the rest of his career.
“It had to be done,” Zetterberg said. “We went in, took away two pieces from my disk that were pushing on the nerve, and once this healed and properly rehabbed, I shouldn’t have an issue again.”
A perennial NHL All-Star, Zetterberg has 48 points in the 45 games he has played for Detroit this year – 16 goals and 32 assists. Even having missed so many games, Zetterberg still leads the Red Wings in points. After him, the player with the most points is Niklas Kronwall with 44. Kronwall has seven goals and 37 assists in 70 games this season.