PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Sitting on a secret, the Red Wings newly minted captain Henrik Zetterberg said he’s humbled and honored to become the 36th in franchise history.
“Of course, it’s a very special day becoming captain,” Zetterberg said. “First, Kenny (Holland) beat me on the golf course and he told me that I was going to be the next captain, it was a few months ago.
“I called my dad right away and told him and he was real proud. So it is special and I’m glad the day is here and we’re back playing again. And I look forward to getting going on Saturday.”
Zetterberg was introduced at a news conference prior to Tuesday’s intra-squad scrimmage at Compuware Arena in suburban Detroit. He is just the third captain since the 1986-87 season when Steve Yzerman took over the captaincy from Danny Gare.
This, however, is not the first time that Zetterberg has worn a ‘C’ on his sweater. He was captain for a short time back home during the 2001-02 Swedish Elite League season.
“I was captain in Sweden for Timra for a couple of months before I came over here,” he said. “I think I got a little bit used to the media thing over there before I came over here. I think also, the more you play the more you play in those situations as a leader and you learn more and more. It’s all about experience. I feel comfortable now for this task. I learned a lot throughout my years and I’m looking forward to getting the season started.”
The Red Wings will open the abbreviated 2013 season this Saturday in Sat. Louis. The Wings will also play in Columbus next Monday before opening the home portion of the schedule the next night against Columbus at Joe Louis Arena.
This week, coach Mike Babcock eluded to his seven year player-coach relationship that he has with Zetterberg, who summed it up by saying, “Sometimes he can get real mad at me and I get real mad at him, but end of the day, it’s just hockey and we figure it out. It’s important to have an honest relationship and you shouldn’t be afraid to speak your mind.”
After nine seasons, Zetterberg said that he’s fortunate to have played for some great leaders, and not just those named Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom.
“Just playing with Nick for my whole career here, just to see how he prepares himself, how he handled himself on and off the ice, and just lead by example and that’s what he did,” Zetterbreg said. “I played with many good leaders since I got here and not just Stevie and Nick. There was (Kris) Draper, (Chris) Chelios, there are so many guys that I played with that you learn from. So you try to take bits and pieces from all the guys that you play with and they really formed the player who I am now.”
For Babcock, the three captains that he’s coached during his tenure in Detroit all have the same traits.
“I guess the things that jump to mind for me is fierce, fierce competitors,” he said. “(They’re) Great, great people and guys who put the team first and can speak for the team and treat their teammates right. So those are three things that I would say right off the top of my head.”
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