DETROIT - While he might not be ready for camp, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg expects to be ready for the start of the season.
Zetterberg did not skate with the large group of teammates at Joe Louis Arena Monday as he is still recovering from the knee injury that forced him out of the World Cup.
"When I said no to the World Cup, it gives me time to come back 100 percent for the season starting," Zetterberg said. "We've got plenty of time now. I didn't have that if I was going to the World Cup. Missing camp, obviously it's not optimal. You want to be up there, you want to be with the guys and skate with them but if I'm not, I will still be up there, maybe not participate as long."
Zetterberg said he injured himself during off-ice training, nothing he hadn't done in previous workouts but this time he tweaked his knee.
Zetterberg said he can't go back on the ice until he is pain-free so that puts training camp, which officially starts Sept. 23, in doubt.
"I've got to be able to do stuff off the ice before I go out on the ice," Zetterberg said. "There is a week and a half so there's a chance but there's also a chance I'm not going to be skating at that time so just got to play it by ear."
Zetterberg admitted that it was very disappointing to not be able to play in the World Cup, where he was supposed to be the captain of Team Sweden.
"There's a good chance this was my last chance to play for Team Sweden," Zetterberg said. "And the team we had and just a tournament like World Cup, it doesn't come around that often so that was a hard part. Anyway, too, it was the only decision to make. It was a tough day when I had to make that call."
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall also withdrew from the World Cup because of knee issues.
Now Zetterberg's attention shifts to the Wings and trying to have a better second half to his own season.
Although he led the team in points with 50, Zetterberg finished minus-15, the worst of his career.
He's striving for more consistency this season.
"One of those things is manage your time, not just on the ice but off the ice, too," Zetterberg said. "Find different ways to be fresh. If that means working more in the gym or working less in the gym, you got to find your times or find your moments to be fresh. I think that's what's kind of got me the last two years. I ran out of gas. You can't play hockey at this level when you're out of gas. That's one of the things we're going to play around with this year and hopefully it works."
Zetterberg said he's encouraged by the additions the Wings made in the offseason, signing forwards Frans Nielsen , Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek .
"Frans and I know each other," Zetterberg said. "We played back in Sweden. Actually his wife is from my hometown in Sweden so we know each other. I think it was a great addition, probably one of the most underrated players in the league, done a really job on the Island for many years. I think we're all pretty thrilled to have him on our team."
Then of course there is one player that won't be with the Wings this season, Zetterberg's Euro Twin, Pavel Datsyuk.
"We all know that we will miss No. 13 but we put ourselves in a position that we can succeed and I think that's because we made some additions that were good," Zetterberg said.
Zetterberg said he has spoken to Datsyuk over the summer.
"It was time," Zetterberg said. "He felt that he was ready to move home to his family and play hockey in the KHL. Once you make that decision, you can't be over here and play, you've just got to follow your heart."
With Datsyuk's departure and Zetterberg getting older comes opportunity for some young players to grab ice time.
"I think everyone knows that this year is a little different than other years," Zetterberg said. "There is some spots open and I think we want to see the younger guys take steps and kind of take minutes from the older guys. Even me as an older guy doesn't want to see that.
"But I won't give it away, they have to earn it. But that's part of the transition. I went through it when I came in, when I was 25, 26, 27. When I started playing more and we had the older guys then start taking a step down. But as I said you have to earn it. You can't just give them the minutes."
Although Zetterberg's contract runs through the 2020-21 season, he understands his career is closer to the end than it is to the beginning.
"You got to be realistic. I'm getting up there," Zetterberg said. "We had some talks but I'm not the oldest guy on the team - on the roster at least (Johan Franzen ). But I'm getting closer. Looking back on my career I don't think I ever thought I'd be the oldest guy. But it's part of life."
INFORMAL SKATE: Speaking of Franzen, he wore a whistle and served as the coach for the group that skated informally Monday.
Among those skating were Danny DeKeyser , Drew Miller , Riley Sheahan , Luke Glendening , Mike Green , Steve Ott, Jimmy Howard , Jared Coreau, Anthony Mantha, Jonathan Ericsson , Darren Helm , Xavier Ouellet, Tyler Bertuzzi, Zach Nastasiuk and Evgeny Svechnikov.