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Zetterberg Still Can’t Believe Red Wings Drafted Him

Zetterberg was selected 199th overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft

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Henrik Zetterberg, ex-Red Wings
Former Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg admits to surprise that the club was opting to select him in the 1999 NHL entry draft.

He’s arguably the most important player to join the Detroit Red Wings over the past 20 years. Yet Henrik Zetterberg still finds it to be remarkable that the Wings picked him up at all. At least that’s what he told Finnish website iltalehti.fi when asked about his NHL career.

“I think I was not a better player,” was Zetterberg’s assessment of his ability in 1999, when he would be made the 210th selection of the NHL entry draft by Detroit. “I’m happy someone took me. The rest is history, so to speak.”

He wound up playing 1082 games for Detroit over 15 NHL seasons, scoring 337 goals and coming up 40 points shy of 1000 for his NHL career. Zetterberg scored over 40 goals once, topped 30 goals three other times and would clear 20 goals in four more seasons. His single-season high for points was 92 in 2007-08. Zetterberg would go beyond 60 points in seven further campaigns.

His hardware collection includes a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy, both won in 2007-08, and the 2014-15 King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Zetterberg was part of three President’s Trophy winners with Detroit. In 2002-03, he was an NHL All-Rookie Team selection. He was selected to the NHL Second All-Star Team and NHL All-Star Game, both in 2007-08. Zetterberg would serve as team captain of the Red Wings from 2012-18.

Zetterberg An Internation Sensation

The Swedish hockey legend was also the Swedish Elite League rookie of the year in 2000-01 with Timra. Wearing the three crowns of Sweden’s national team, Zetterberg won a gold medal in both the Olympic Games and IIHF World Championship in 2005-06. Those successes, coupled with his Stanley Cup win, make Zetterberg a part of hockey’s elite Triple Gold Club. He was recently inducted into the IIHF Hall Of Fame.

Sweden beat Finland in the 2006 gold medal game at the Winter Olympics, but it’s a 2003 world tourney quarterfinal match that Zetterberg remembers most fondly among games against Sweden’s biggest hockey rival.  The Swedes would rally from a 5-1 deficit to beat the Finns 6-5 on that day.

“I have heard that it is a national trauma in Finland,” Zetterberg said. “When I saw Mats Sundin’s eyes after PJ’s (Axelsson’s game-winning) goal, it’s a scene drawn on my retinas that I can never forget. A local game in Finland, which we won after incredible stages. I am very happy that I was able to be part of the team.”

Even though many of his Detroit contemporaries are now helping GM Steve Yzerman rebuild the once-proud Red Wings franchise, Zetterberg was recently expressing that he has no desire to work in the Detroit front office, or the front office of any hockey team for that matter.

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“My health is good now, and there is no pain in my back,’ said Zetterberg, 42, whose playing days ended in 2018 followng back surgery. “I can do everything else except professional hockey.

“I am involved in a couple of businesses, but mainly I just enjoy life.”