As the crowning of Henrik Zetterberg as Detroit Red Wings‘ captain seems imminent, there is hardly a better time to learn a bit more about the Swede.
Zetterberg’s journey to the NHL began on October 9th, 1980 when he was born in Njurunda, Sweden to Goran and Ulla Zetterberg. With his father as a hockey coach, Henrik hardly had a choice as to his career path.
Zetterberg began playing professionally in 1997 in Sweden at the ripe age of 17. Hank was able to make enough of an impact in Sweden to be drafted by the Red Wings in the 7th round of the NHL Entry Draft in 1999. He was considered a long shot prospect in the NHL, despite his success in Sweden. When Zetterberg finally came to the United States to play, he was nothing short of a legend in his home country. His beloved number 20 is actually retired at his home club, Timra IK. He was named Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year after the 2000-2001 season. He was given the Guldpucken (or Golden Puck) as Sweden’s Best Player following the 2001-2002 season.
It is hard to argue against Zetterberg coming to the United States, as his 44 points as a rookie were good enough to be voted by his peers as the Rookie of the Year in the NHL. And the awards kept coming. When the lockout hit the NHL, Zetterberg went back home, and all he did while there was produce 50 points in 50 games to become the Swedish scoring champion. No big deal. He made his first NHL All-Star team in 2007, but 2008 was the season to remember.
Not only did the Detroit Red Wings win the President’s Trophy in 2008, but Zetterberg and teammate Pavel Datsyuk were both finalists for the Selke Trophy given to the NHL’s best defensive forward. More importantly, TSN voted Henrik Zetterberg as their Player of the Year. As great of a season as Zetterberg and the Red Wings had, it was about to get a whole lot better.
The Red Wings steamrolled through the rest of the Western Conference before dispatching the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to claim the 11th Stanley Cup in the history of the franchise. Zetterberg was an integral part of the postseason success, including a moment late in game six where he was able to disrupt Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby just enough to keep the puck out of the net and secure victory. Henrik was given the Conn Smythe trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the entire playoffs.
As well as things have gone for Henrik on the ice, things are just as good for him off of it. Zetterberg married Swedish celebrity Emma Andersson in July of 2010. As farfetched as it may be to think that a professional athlete could out-kick his coverage, Zetterberg may have done exactly that. I highly recommend a google image search for Andersson, and also take a look at the photos of their bizarre wedding.
Z hasn’t quite lived up to his 2008 season, but possibly the C being sewn on that 40 sweater will be exactly what he needs (allegedly).