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Zetterberg Involved In New Racquet

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Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

Former Detroit Red Wings great Henrik Zetterberg is proving once again that athletes can retire, but don’t have to stop competing.

He has a part-time role with the Red Wings as a consultant.

But these days he’s front and center in a movement to bring a new sport to Michigan.

It’s called padel, an indoor game that has elements of tennis, pickleball and racquetball. There’s a racquet and a ball, it’s scored like tennis, with its own specific rules as to using the walls as part of a team’s offense.

One could say the game has gone around the world. It began in Mexico, became popular in Argentina and Spain before moving to Sweden.

Zetterberg discovered it after moving back to Sweden in 2019 and found some familiar faces, in former Red Wings Niklas Kronwall and Gustav Nyquist, playing the sport. Nyquist plays today for the Nashville Predators.

“After I retired from the NHL and moved back to Sweden, I started using padel as basically my go-to workout program,” Zetterberg told socialhousenews.com. “I loved it right away.”

That led the three ex-Red Wings to join other investors in bringing the sport to Michigan.

Sport Gets Foothold in Sterling Heights

Zmash Padel opened a Sterling Heights facility in a former warehouse in January after a 10-month search.

“I knew it was not going to be easy to find an existing building like this, so finding one as quickly as we did was amazing,” Zetterberg said.

“Zmash” has Zetterberg’s initial replacing the S in “Smash.”

He says the game is easy to learn.

“First of all, the learning curve is very fast,” Zetterberg said. “That’s one reason I got hooked. I got better every time I played. It’s easier than tennis, in my opinion at least, because if a ball gets past you in tennis, the point is over. If a ball gets past you in padel, you can play it off the back wall, so there are longer rallies.”

Zetterberg says the game is suitable for all.

“For instance, my 8-year-old son was playing recently back in Sweden next to a court that had a clinic for people 65-and-older going on,” Zetterberg said. “It’s for all ages. It’s great for bonding with your family, too. I often play with my son and wife. Our chemistry (on the padel courts) isn’t always great (he chuckled), but it’s a lot of fun.”

Zetterberg’s group hopes to eventually expand to Ann Arbor and Canton.