DETROIT – The list of candidates to replace Nicklas Lidstrom as the team’s next captain is short according to Wings general manager Ken Holland – Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall.
All three were assistant captains last season.
“They’ve got the A’s,” Holland said. “It’s hard to think you’re going to take someone without a letter and go past guys with letters.
“It’s hard to think you’re going to bring somebody from the outside to be your captain,” Holland added. “So in all reality, one of our assistants will probably be the captain.”
Lidstrom took over for Steve Yzerman, who was the longest-serving captain in NHL history, in 2006.
After talking with his teammates at Thursday’s press conference announcing Lidstrom’s retirement, it seems obvious Zetterberg, 31, is the logical choice.
“I think Hank always shows up to play, always shows up in the big games,” Kronwall said. “He’s been a leader on this team for many meany years, to me that would be a logical choice.”
“His leadership on the ice,” Justin Abdelkader said. “He’s not a rah-rah, vocal guy. He leads more by example. He’ll say something when something needs to be said but he’s in a similar mode to Nick. There are lot of good candidates, like Nick said. Kronner has really stepped it up. We’ll see. That’s a decision the coaches and management will make.”
“He’s a competitor,” Todd Bertuzzi said of Zetterberg. “He leaves everything on the ice. He works hard off the ice, is a tremendous person. He’s a good guy, he’s a great guy to be around. He has that presence in the locker room.”
“He’s got all the qualities,” Danny Cleary said. “He is the ultimate team player. He’s not concerned about his own personal stuff. He has great work ethic. He treats everybody with respect. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock made it sound like the decision on who will be the Wings’ next captain has already been made.
“There was no decision whatsoever,” Babcock said. “We’ll probably announce it in the fall this year and I don’t think there will be a lot of debate. We’ve been thinking about this.”
In 2009, Zetterberg, who has averaged 28 goals and 41 assists over nine season in Detroit, signed a 12-year, $72-million contact, which is the longest and most lucrative deal in club history.