The Detroit Red Wings face a tough road to the playoffs without star forward Henrik Zetterberg, who underwent back surgery to repair a fractured disk.
"It’s going to be a tight race just like last year to end and we need all the bodies we can get," Red Wings defensemen Jonathan Ericsson told reporters at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "Hank has been our best player all year."
But if the Red Wings can get to the postseason, they could regain the services of this elite two-way forward.
"I don’t anticipate he’ll be ready to play in any games of the regular season," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I’m hopeful that we can play our way into the playoffs and that he’ll be back, but that’s down the road."
He has been their top offensive weapon this season with 16 goals and 32 assists in 45 games. He missed time earlier this season with bare soreness, then tried to play through the injury at the Olympics.
But a bone fragment lodged against a nerve in Zetterberg's back, necessitating the surgery. Holland doesn't expect this injury to force him into a premature retirement.
"I’m told it has nothing to do with his career," Holland said. "But the surgery is something that needed to be done and he’ll be as good as new."