DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings will be without one of their best players night in and night out for perhaps the rest of the season.
Henrik Zetterberg underwent successful back surgery Friday that will sideline him at least eight weeks.
“It went very well,” Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said in a phone interview Friday. “They had to remove part of a disc that was rubbing on a nerve.”
There’s a chance Zetterberg could return for the first round of the playoffs, if the Wings are able to qualify.
“It’s exactly what they thought it was so the recovery process looks very positive,” Martin said.
Martin said that Zetterberg was expected to begin walking around Friday.
“That’s a really good sign,” Martin said. “We feel confident this procedure will help in the long term.”
The team placed him in long-term injured reserve.
“Of course it’s going to affect us, Hank is our leader and he’s probably our best player on the ice every night,” Niklas Kronwall said earlier this season when Zetterberg was sidelined with a herniated disc. “But at the same time, again anytime someone goes down it’s another opportunity for someone else to step up and get some more ice time, take upon some more responsibility and it’s just about doing the job every night, regardless of who’s in the lineup. If we can just stick to the process and keep believing in what we do, we should be fine.”
The procedure was performed by Dr. Frank Cammisa at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Zetterberg, 33, missed 11 games in December with that slightly herniated disc. He also missed two games in January due to it.
“Once you have issues with your back you always will and you learn to live with it and play with it,” Zetterberg said earlier this season. “But at the same time you know when it’s worse than normal. That’s how it is right now. Sitting is the worst. I think anyone with back issues knows that. In a way I’m more mobile know than I was in ’08 so that’s a good sign.”
Zetterberg played just one game for Sweden at the Olympics before withdrawing from the tournament due to server back pain.
Zetterberg began having issues with his back in 2008, which made him miss the All-Star break.
In 2007, he injured his vertebra and missed several weeks.
Zetterberg still leads the team in every offensive category – goals (16), assists (32) – and plus-minus rating (plus-19) despite missing 13 games.
The team could have Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and Johan Franzen (concussion) back when play resumes Wednesday in Montreal.
This could also affect what the team does with Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco, who will all practice Saturday and Sunday with the Wings.
“We’ll make roster decisions on Monday or Tuesday,” Martin said.
This injury could also make the Wings very active come the trade deadline.