Henrik Zetterberg (born October 9, 1980) is a Swedish professional ice hockey center and alternate captain currently playing for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. Along with winning the Stanley Cup in 2008, Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Zetterberg started out by playing his youth league games for the Njurunda Sports Club, as did Fredrik Modin. In 2008, the club renamed their arena—until then known as Njurunda Ishall—to Modin & Zetterberg-hallen in their honor.
Zetterberg caught the attention of the Red Wings’ Assistant General Manager Jim Nill and Director of European Scouting Håkan Andersson during a tournament in Finland. While Andersson was trying to point out Mattias Weinhandl, Nill could not help noticing “this little Zetterberg guy who always seemed to have the puck.”
Zetterberg was selected by the Detroit Red Wings 210th overall in the seventh round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Detroit was under criticism at the time for “mortgaging its future,” trading away many of its earlier picks in the 1999 draft. After playing for Timrå IK of the Swedish Elitserien for the 2000–01 and 2001–02 seasons, Zetterberg came to Detroit to play in the NHL for the 2002–03 season.
Zetterberg, a highly touted rookie, did not disappoint. He made his debut against the San Jose Sharks on October 10, 2002, at the Joe Louis Arena. He played in 79 games his rookie season, scoring 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points, leading all first-year players. Zetterberg finished the season as runner-up for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year behind St. Louis Blues defenceman Barret Jackman. In his sophomore season, Zetterberg nearly matched his rookie stats despite missing 21 games due to a broken leg suffered against the Vancouver Canucks early in the season on November 5, 2003. Due to the owners’ lockout the next season, Zetterberg returned to Sweden to play for Timrå IK in 2004–05, leading the Elitserien in scoring with 50 points in 50 games.
As the NHL resumed in 2005–06, Zetterberg emerged as an NHL star and was also named an alternate captain in the absence of team captain Steve Yzerman. He enjoyed his second best statistical season in 2005–06, tallying 39 goals and 85 points, second in team-scoring to Pavel Datsyuk’s 87, along with a plus/minus of +29 and a team-high 17 power play goals. That season, head coach Mike Babcock began assembling an all-Swedish starting lineup which included Zetterberg and teammates Tomas Holmström, Mikael Samuelsson, Nicklas Lidström, and Niklas Kronwall (sometimes Andreas Lilja). The combination was dubbed the “Swedish Five”, a concept similar to the famed Russian Five of the Red Wings during the 1990s. All five players would also skate together at the 2006 Winter Olympics, helping Sweden to a gold medal.
With the announced retirement of Steve Yzerman during the season, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet speculated that Zetterberg might take over the captaincy for the Red Wings, but Nicklas Lidström was instead named Yzerman’s successor while Zetterberg was named an alternate on the day of the Red Wings’ 2006–07 season opener. That season, Zetterberg was selected for the 2007 NHL All-Star Game, but withdrew to rest an injured wrist. Later in the year, Zetterberg scored his 100th career goal against the Phoenix Coyotes on February 8, 2007, prompting Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky to comment that Zetterberg is “probably the most underrated player in the league.” Nine days later, on February 17, in another game against the Coyotes, Zetterberg picked up his first career hat-trick, all power play goals, and added an assist on an empty-net goal by Jason Williams for a four-point game. He finished the campaign with 68 points in his injury-shortened 63-game season.
Zetterberg began the 2007–08 season with a 16-game point-scoring streak, breaking the record of 14 games set by former Red Wing Norm Ullman in 1960. He was voted to start for the Western Conference in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game alongside teammates Chris Osgood (who was named a starter after Roberto Luongo declined), Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, but again did not play in the game due to back problems. Despite missing time due to injury, Zetterberg recorded a career-year with personal bests of 43 goals, 49 assists and 92 points in 75 games. He went on to add a 27 points in 22 playoff games, leading the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup championship, their 11th in team history. In game six of the Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Zetterberg scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs MVP afterwards. His 13 playoff goals tied with teammate Johan Franzén for the Red Wings record for most in a single postseason. At the end of the season, Zetterberg was also up for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward, but finished as a runner-up to teammate Pavel Datsyuk.
In the final year of his contract in 2008–09, Zetterberg agreed to a 12-year, $73 million contract extension with the Red Wings on January 28, 2009. The deal is the longest and most lucrative in franchise history. Zetterberg recorded 11 goals and 13 assists for the Red Wings during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs that saw them reach Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to their 2008 opponent the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite a slow start to the 2009-10 NHL Season, Zetterberg’s play quickly improved, and he recorded the fourth hat trick of his career on November 14 against the Anaheim Ducks, scoring three goals in the third period of Detroit’s 7-4 victory.
- Played for Sweden in:
- 2001 World Championships (bronze medal)
- 2002 Winter Olympics
- 2002 World Championships (bronze medal)
- 2003 World Championships (silver medal)
- 2004 World Cup of Hockey
- 2005 World Championships
- 2006 Winter Olympics (gold medal)
- 2006 World Championships (gold medal)
Zetterberg has been a consistent part of the Swedish national team, “Tre Kronor”, since 2001. He has enjoyed a fair amount of success in the IIHF World Championships, winning a medal in four of the five years he has appeared in that tournament. He was one of just two non-NHLers named to the Swedish squad for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
He won a gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics and then again in the 2006 World Championship in Riga, playing a part in the international sweep (both Olympic and World Champion the same year). Zetterberg is one of only eight players to capture this sweep.
With the 2008 Stanley Cup championship, Zetterberg became a member of the Triple Gold Club. The term is used for an exclusive group of ice hockey players who have won Olympic gold, World Championship gold, and the Stanley Cup. Zetterberg is one of 23 members of this exclusive club, which is formally recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Zetterberg goes by the nicknames of “Zäta” (pronounced “Zaeta,” which means “Z” in Swedish);”Z”, “Curly Fries” and “Hank,” an anglicized shortening of Henrik that is used by his Red Wings teammates. He and his fellow linemate Pavel Datsyuk have been nicknamed by commentators and the Detroit media as the “Euro Twins” and “The Hank and Pav Show.” He also carries the nickname “Sasha,” which he was given by Tomas Holmström to match “Pasha” Datsyuk.
In the summer of 2008 he became engaged to Emma Andersson, a Swedish model and TV host.