DETROIT – In last Saturday’s win at Ottawa, Henrik Zetterberg’s two assists pushed him over the threshold of a couple milestones – 500 assists and 800 points – that very few have achieved while wearing a Red Wings’ sweater.
Now, Zetterberg is on the doorstep of yet another landmark in franchise history as his next goal will be No. 300 of his illustrious 13-season career in Detroit.
He will join seven other NHL greats who have scored 300 goals with the Red Wings: Gordie Howe (786), Steve Yzerman (692), Alex Delvecchio (456), Sergei Fedorov (400), Ted Lindsay (335), Norm Ullman (324) and Brendan Shanahan (309).
With his next goal, Zetterberg will also gain entry as just the fifth member of the franchise’s 300/500/800 club for goals, assists and points in a career. Currently, the only constituents in the exclusionary alliance are Howe, Delvecchio, Yzerman and Fedorov.
Pavel Datsyuk, who is still recovering from off-season ankle surgery, is just two goals shy of the 300/500/800 club. Datsyuk hopes to return to the Red Wings’ lineup in the middle of this month.
It was Gustav Nyquist’s goal in the second period of Saturday’s 5-3 over the Senators that produced Zetterberg’s 800th career point. Zetterberg picked up career assist 500 on Tomas Tatar’s first-period goal.
“Obviously a big milestone,” Nyquist said Monday. “Obviously he’s meant a lot for this organization and he means a lot
for this team. In general just for the league he means a lot. He’s a
special player. A great milestone for him. It was fun to be – I
wouldn’t say be a part of it – but to be in on that goal. … That was fun for me and Tats.”
Only nine other active NHL players have reached 300 goals, 500 assists and 800 points in a career. The others are Jaromir Jagr, Jerome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Patrick Marleau, Vincent Lecavalier, Shane Doan, Joe Thornton, Daniel Sedin and Sidney Crosby.
Out of that group, Zetterberg is the points leader through the first month of the season, producing three goals and 14 points.
“When I came here as an assistant, I had the opportunity to see him day to day, to see Pav day to day, to see Nick (Lidstrom) day to day,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It was an eye-opener when I came here as an assistant. Well, not an eye-opener, I shouldn't say that. What it was was a reaffirmation of why some guys are great. They're great because of the approach that they put in every single day. That's why he is what he is. That's why he's one of the best players in the world, has been for a long time and he continues to be because of the approach that he has every single day.”
For nine seasons, Mike Green had the dubious assignment, while with the Washington Capitals, of trying to limit Zetterberg’s scoring chances.
“He’s one of those guys that has the knack for the net,” Green said. “He has the patience to stay in positions and spots where pucks are going to go to, not necessarily diving in to where they already are. Just having that ability to find spots around the net, he’s got a great shot, he’s got great accuracy, those things always help when you’re in that area.”
Since his return from back surgery in 2014, Zetterberg has regained his offensive production, registering 20 goals and 80 points in 88 regular-season games with the Wings.
It’s that kind of determination and drive that helped Green chose the Red Wings as he decided on a new NHL home, last July.
“It just goes to show, even if he’s had some tough times with movement and what not, he has the mental ability to know where to be and play the game the proper way,” Green said. “That’s a testament to how good he is.
“Just his presence. His mindset when he comes to the rink every day, he’s focused, he works hard, he emphasizes everything you look for in a leader. I’m very happy to be a part of that sort of environment.”