The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/14/14 at 06:46 AM ET
Updated at 7:12 AM: The news regarding Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg keeps getting worse and worse. After the Swedes announced that he would miss the remainder of the Olympics, Wings GM and Team Canada consultant Ken Holland delivered a grim prognosis to the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Detroit general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press Friday that Zetterberg, "is in a great deal of discomfort, so in fairness to Sweden, the Detroit Red Wings organization and himself, he is pulling out of the Olympics.
"He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break. Beyond that, I have no real time frame."
Holland continued, and again, the news is no good, but I will say this: I'm grateful that the Swedish doctors chose to work with the Wings instead of keeping him going for the sake of Olympic pride:
"I don't know if he will need surgery," Holland said. "He needs to see a doctor. He is going to wait until he feels better, then fly home early next week. There is an NHL charter going back to the States on Thursday, he may be on that. It is obviously a huge disappointment for him."
The Wings can ill afford to be without Zetterberg, their captain and best all-around player. They are coming out of the Olympic break, in less than two weeks, clinging to the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Pavel Datsyuk is also hurting, playing on an inflamed knee, but Holland said he has heard nothing new on Datsyuk.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen confirms the Swedes' side of the story in English...
"In this situation it was no tough decision as this was no borderline case," Sweden team doctor Bjorn Waldeback said Friday. "For people who know medicine it is obvious that this couldn't continue.
"[Henrik] has been in touch with the Detroit medical staff. I have been in touch with the NHL doctors who are here. They totally agree with us. When you suffer from a herniated disk the way he does, you need to go home for a medical evaluation."
Waldeback, speaking to the Olympic News Service, said there was no specific contact in the game Wednesday to cause a new onset of back pain.
Zetterberg cannot be replaced on the roster. According to International Ice Hockey Federation rules, rosters for the 12 Olympic teams were locked when the opening game of the tournament started. Sweden will continue with 24 players.
"Of course it's nothing one wishes for, but we have to see the possibilities and look forward," Sweden coach Per Marts told the ONS. "Perhaps it's good with some hardship in the beginning so that we maybe won't get it later. It is nothing we can do about it and I don't feel like we could've done anything differently."
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, a teammate of Zetterberg with the Red Wings, reportedly has been named captain of Sweden for the remainder of the tournament.
As did IIHF.com's Martin Merk...
Team doctor Bjorn Waldeback addressed the media and said Zetterberg has a herniated disc. During the pre-game skate it became known that he will not only miss today’s game against Switzerland but that he will be out for the remainder of the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament in Sochi and will fly home.
“He is still suffering from his back injury and it is so painful for him that he can't be in it any more. It is Z who has taken this decision together with me,” Waldeback said. “I think it is the cumulative load. There was no specific thing that happened in the game. The issues came the morning after. These are nerve-related issues and they often come creeping in. It is not one specific injury.
"[The NHL doctors] totally agree with us. When you suffer from a herniated disc the way he does, you need to go home for a medical evaluation."
Zetterberg recently missed 11 NHL games due to back problems. His injury is a big blow for Sweden’s medal ambitions after having lost another centre due to injury, Henrik Sedin, just before the tournament.
“I spoke with Z on the evening after (Wednesday's) game and he didn't show any signs of feeling the slightest pain,” Swedish head coach Par Marts said. “Of course it's nothing one wishes for, but we have to see the possibilities and look forward.”
Sweden won't have Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the 2014 Sochi Olympics due to injury, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation announced Friday.
The team's captain, who has a herniated disc in his back, missed 13 games for the Detroit Red Wings during the current NHL season.
Zetterberg scored a goal and logged 18:14 of ice time in Sweden's Olympic opener against the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The Swedes won 4-2.
The 33-year-old centreman missed the team's practice Thursday to receive treatment.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Zetterberg will return to Detroit for evaluation in the next day or two. Holland also said the Red Wings captain won't be available to play for Detroit after the Olympic break.
And in Swedish, Zetterberg's comments to Expressen's Henrik Sjoberg are concerning (and what follows is Google-translated garble for expediency's sake), too:
- It is the herniated disc that has gone up again, it's the same as in December but much worse encounters. I was hoping that it would be better today but it's not, and in December, I did not do anything for two weeks, then it was two weeks after it too. It's a very tough decision but nothing I can do, says Zetterberg SportExpressen.se.
Detroit Red Wings called directly and was reached by the information that he could not work out yesterday.
- Of course they got in so fast I was not involved and trained, and then have the people in place and they also had good contact with Björn Waldebäck (national team doctor) here too.
- We do not know exactly what it is, when this came in December so there was a risk that it would come back just because the disk looked when we looked. Unfortunately, so is there anything there again. We'll see what needs doing. Options are reading we did last or surgery. Now we'll see what is said, say Zäta.
If there is surgery, he could be gone in two months.
- I have heard that there are six to eight weeks if you have to have surgery, you can not keep on like I do now either. It must be good in any way. We'll see until you get over there and see what they say, says Zetterberg.
Leaving the Swedish Olympic team is very heavy for him.
- Of course it is very hard, yesterday once it happened they tried to have hope alive as long as possible but it is clear that it was a tough decision to make. There is not a shoulder or a knee that will play through without it is simply impossible. Clearly it is a hassle, the tournament has begun and you have played a game and had time to meet the guys says Zata.
Now it's a matter of time before he can return home to Detroit - the back has to be better for him to be able to cope with the long flight.
- As soon as I feel okay to fly, I guess it is just. We'll see when it gets back but need to get better before I put myself in the plane. I have not directly touched me very last days, says Zetterberg.
"I have not been able to move much, had a rough night," Zetterberg told SportEspressen.se.
In the article, Zetterberg says surgery is a possibility.
"You cannot keep going like this," he said. "It's the same as in December."
More raw Swedish. Here's Aftonbladet's Hans Abrahamsson speaking with coach Par Marts, GM Tommy Boustedt and team doctor Waldeback...
- He's hurt, really hurt , says national team manager Tommy Boustedt .
- If you have trouble with a herniated disc in that way he has , it is impossible to play hockey at the elite level. In this case, no hard decision , it was not borderline. For us who are medically inserted, it is obvious that he can not play more in the tournament , said national team doctor Bjorn Waldebäck .
However, no state has worsened since yesterday.
- It's very similar , said Waldebäck .
Pär Mårts still have not had time to talk to his captain .
- No, I have not met him myself. Right now I'm more scared about Henry as a person than as a hockey player . Clearly there is something you want, but in this job , it is somehow like this, it never gets as expected .
- This was not something we wanted to happen but now we are there and for me I just have to see opportunity in the next step. It creates opportunities for others to grow into it. Now, for example, Patrik Berglund play a bit more and take more initiative and grow, says Mårts
And here's Abrahamsson, Per Bjurman, Per Bohan and Kristopher Karlsson speaking with Zetterberg:
He has finished playing in the Olympic tournament , he will leave the Olympic village when there is opportunity , says national team manager Tommy Boustedt Sportbladet .
"He has such great trouble of his back injury and it is so bothersome that he can not be with anymore. There was absolutely no chance in the time we have here that he comes to training or games, says national team doctor Bjorn Waldebäck .
A herniated disc was that Zetterberg missed eleven games with Detroit in January and February. The same stopping now back injury Three Kronors captain from participating in the rest of the tournament.
"He has good contacts over there in the U.S. so he will tie the new contact so they (Detroit ) to decide what is most appropriate. Think the total load , it was probably no single occasion during the match. The appeal came a day after . It's very nerve -related symptoms and they will usually insidious , says Waldebäck and continues: "We arrived at this together . It was " Zata " who came up with it in consultation with me," saying Waldebäck .
Sportbladet's hockey expert Per Bjurman was called by Henrik Zetterberg during the morning, and the Detroit - scoring forward said he misses the entire OS as a result of the great pain .
"He has so much pain that he can barely move," says Bjurman .
"OS is unfortunately over for me , it 's the same old shit as usual in the back. Only 20 times worse . I can not play and had to go home and have it looked at . Of course it is incredibly lame. That this should happen now, during an Olympics, is pitiful. I get so damn sick," says Zetterberg .
Zetterberg was driving in his chain during its opening match against the Czech Republic and scored one goal . But as much fun , it was not after the game.
"I felt a bit after the game against the Czech Republic , but no more than usual. But on Thursday , it got worse and worse and now it is twenty times worse than before. We'll see when I go home , I'm not in flight serviceable yet . I have not touched me very last day, it hurts at the slightest movement," says Zetterberg moaning when he turns on itself .
Now he gets to follow his teammates in front of the TV for the rest of the tournament.
"The guys of course said that they find this awful and so, but they can not think about it. They will play match against Switzerland tonight and have to focus on it. I really wish them luck in the future . It's really sad, but now it is."
#RedWings #Sweden captain Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disk) done at #Sochi2014, going back to Detroit. Injury worse than he's had before.
Ken Holland on Henrik Zetterberg: "Hasn't seen doctor. Going back to DET in day or two to be evaluated. On medication to get swelling down."
Ken Holland on Zetterberg (herniated disk): "He's going to be down for period of time. No time frame until see specialist in Detroit."
Ken Holland on Henrik Zetterberg: "He won't be ready by the time we come out of Olympics." #RedWings
Ken Holland on Zetterberg (herniated disk): "In fairness to Sweden, Red Wings and himself, he made right decision to pull out of Olympics."
Here's ESPN's report, which seems to liberally quote from Aftonbladet...
The Detroit Red Wings captain had anti-inflammatory treatment and consulted with the NHL's doctors in Sochi, but Sweden spokesman Anders Feltenmark confirmed Zetterberg is out Friday before the team faced Switzerland.
Said Sweden team doctor Bjorn Waldeback regarding Zetterberg's herniated disk: "There is no chance at all in the time we've got here that he will be able to train or play. It was no tough decision as this was no borderline case. For people who know medicine it is obvious that this couldn't continue."
The four-time Olympian's absence is another big blow to the Swedes, who were medal favorites before forwards Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen also were forced to skip the Olympics with injuries.
Sweden still has ample offensive firepower, but depth and shifting lines could be a problem when the elimination portion of the tournament begins next week. Sweden can't replace the 33-year-old Zetterberg on its 25-man roster, which is locked after the teams' first game.
Sweden head coach Par Marts says his team has to step up now.
"This is not what we wanted to happen but now it has and all we can do is see who will step up to fill the void," Marts told reporters Friday ahead of his team's game with Switzerland. "Patrik Berglund now gets to play a bit more and take more initiatives to grow."
And here's the AP's Greg Beacham's report:
“It is so painful for him that he can’t be in it anymore,” team doctor Bjorn Waldeback said. “It is Z who has taken this decision together with me. I think it is the cumulative load. There was no specific thing that happened in the game. The issues came the morning after. These are nerve-related issues and they often come creeping in. It is not one specific injury.”
The Detroit Red Wings captain had anti-inflammatory treatment and consulted with the NHL’s doctors in Sochi.
“(The NHL doctors) totally agree with us,” Waldeback said. “When you suffer from a herniated disc the way he does, you need to go home for a medical evaluation.”
The four-time Olympian’s absence is another big blow to the Swedes, who were medal favourites before forwards Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen also were forced to skip the Olympics with injuries.
“I spoke with Z on the evening after (Wednesday’s) game and he didn’t show any signs of feeling the slightest pain,” Swedish head coach Par Marts said. “Of course it’s nothing one wishes for, but we have to see the possibilities and look forward.”
All the Wings and the Swedish medical staff can do right now involves the obvious--they need to get Zetterberg's back settled down to the point that he can return home to Detroit and then he needs to see a specialist.
You don't perform back surgery willy-nilly, and even though any delays make recovery time that much more worrisome in terms of missing NHL time, back surgery still remains an art and not a science, and ensuring that Zetterberg gets a proper diagnosis and proper treatment--regardless of whether that involves a little laser zap to relieve his herniated disc, whether that involves taking cortcoid steroids, which are banned at the Olympics, to reduce inflammation, or whether that just involves rest.
Update #2: As the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes, the World Anti-Doping Association's ban on cortocoid steroids complicated the issue:
It is possible Zetterberg's NHL season is over, according to the Swedish team doctor, Bjorn Waldeback.
"They have to make a decision over there and then see, but if it stays like this that will be the case," Waldeback said in a candid moment utterly inconsistent with public comments on injuries in the NHL.
Red Wings officials were not immediately available for comment. General Manager Ken Holland and Coach Mike Babcock are with the Canadian men's ice hockey team, which is preparing to play Austria Friday night.
However, on several occasions in the past, since 2008, when Zetterberg's back has been injured, rest and treatment, including with anti-inflammatories, has allowed him to return to play.
"In this situation, it was no tough decision and this was no borderline case," Waldeback said. "For people who know medicine, it is obvious that this couldn't continue. He is still suffering from his back injury, and it is so painful for him that he can't be in it anymore. Z has been in touch with the Detroit medical staff. I have been in touch with the NHL doctors, who are here. They totally agree with us. When you suffer from a herniated disc the way he does, you need to go home for a medical examination."
It is at least the second time this season and the fourth time in the standout 33-year-old forward’s career that he has missed playing time because of his back. With injuries in the NHL kept most secret, it is difficult to know how often it has bothered him. But the sense around the Wings' dressing room is that, like Yzerman before him, Zetterberg plays in pain more often than is known.
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