[Columnist Mitch] Albom: When you signed that 12-year deal (in 2009) did it seem shorter than than it does now with five years still left?
Zetterberg: Well, actually when I signed, 12 years seemed like so long a time. Now all of a sudden, I’ve done over half of it and it’s gone really fast. I thought when I signed it — oh, my God — it’s forever.
Albom: And you have every intention of playing all five years that are left?
Zetterberg: Yes. Yes. But in the same way, I’m human. I know that every year it’s a bigger and bigger battle to get through. We’ll see if my body holds up for five more years. Last year, I played 82 games, which I was proud of doing — maybe it wasn’t 82 good ones, but I played 82 — and so we’ll see. By now, I’m just taking it year by year. And obviously the next two years are big years — the last year at the Joe and then first year at new building. That’s probably where I’m looking.
Zetterberg further explained his position by juxtaposing his potential return “home” — to play in the Swedish Hockey League — to Datsyuk’s decision to play for SKA St. Petersburg, one of the marquee Russian franchises in the KHL.
“I understand Pavel,” Zetterbeg said. “I think the KHL obviously is a higher level than the Swedish Elite League, and also for him going back to be with his daughter (who lives in Russia) was a big impact.”
There are other factors to consider as well.
Datsyuk was 38 by the time he cut ties with Detroit, while Zetterberg turned 36 just a few days ago. The veteran Swede is also coming off two pretty impressive campaigns, health-wise — he appeared in 77 contests during the ’14-15 season, and all 82 last year.
Zetterberg is also the captain in Detroit, a position he’s held for the last four seasons. That’s a role nobody takes lightly, especially him. Wearing the “C” for the Red Wings is a pretty special honor, especially since only two other players have donned it over the last 30 years– Hall of Famers Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman.