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Zetterberg hasn't told Red Wings if he's playing: report

Blashill says forward's status this season unknown because of back problems

by Mike Battaglino / Staff Writer

Henrik Zetterberg has not determined if he will continue his NHL career, according to Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.

"At this point, I haven't heard anything from Henrik to say that he is or is not playing," Blashill told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday. "The biggest thing with Henrik is, how healthy is Henrik? I know he spent the whole second half of last season not practicing because of his back. He ground it out because he is the ultimate warrior, one of the best I have ever been around, and was able to still be a real good player. But that continues to take a wear and tear on your body. So I think he is in the process of deliberating to see where is his back at. And only Henrik can answer that and it will be answered I am sure come (training) camp time."

Speculation this offseason has cast doubt on Zetterberg's return for a 16th NHL season. The 37-year-old forward has a lingering back problem but hasn't missed a game in the past three seasons.

His back was healthy enough for him to get in a round of golf at Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland, along with Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Red Wings director of player development Dan Cleary. Karlsson posted a picture of their group to his Instagram account July 10.

Instagram from @erikkarlsson65: Another beautiful day. #trumpinternational

General manager Ken Holland told the Red Wings website July 1 that he expects Zetterberg to play this season.

"The last I talked to him, I think he's planning on playing," Holland said. "Obviously his back is going to determine whether he can or he can't. Do I have a clear green light? I'm expecting him to play. Do I have a clear green light? No, I don't know that I've got a clear green light."

Zetterberg, the Red Wings captain, had 56 points (11 goals, 45 assists) last season, second on Detroit to forward Dylan Larkin (63 points).

Zetterberg said before last season ended he expected to return and has not said those plans have changed.

"For me it's going to be the same as I've been doing the last couple of years," Zetterberg said April 3. "I will go into the offseason and try to have a good summer, work on my health, and hopefully I can come back and be better."

Zetterberg had surgery to repair a ruptured disk in 2014, when he was unable to continue to play for Sweden at the Sochi Olympics. He has missed five NHL games since then, all in 2014-15.

"Ever since my back surgery, that's been one of the goals, to be able to play as many games as possible," Zetterberg said. "But in the same way, you want to be able to do something out there too. You don't just want to put on the skates. You want to be able to produce and help your team."

Detroit has not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons and has not won a series since 2012-13.

"It's no fun losing, but I still have a lot of fun playing hockey and being around this group of guys," Zetterberg said in April. "Obviously, it would be a lot more fun if we'd still be playing after this weekend. In decision-making, I don't think that has anything to do with it. Health is the key. If I'm not healthy, it's over."

Zetterberg has 960 points (337 goals, 623 assists) in 1,082 games with the Red Wings and 120 points (57 goals, 63 assists) in 137 playoff games. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs in 2008 when he helped Detroit win the Stanley Cup.

Tweet from @HeleneStJames: My Q&A with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill: on shift in philosophy, NHL readiness of Zadina & Rasmussen, Henrik Zetterberg's health & much more via @freep

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