Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg retires due to back injury

Henrik Zetterberg’s NHL career is over due to a degenerative back issue, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Friday as training camp opened.

Zetterberg was holding out hope he could return for a 16th season, but had already been ruled out of being ready for the start of the season .

According to Holland, Zetterberg will go on long-term injured reserve. He has three years remaining on a 12-year deal.

Zetterberg, who turns 38 in October, told reporters at the end of the regular season in April that he would have to evaluate his health before deciding whether to retire.

“I don’t want to think I have played my last game,” the left winger told the Free Press then.

Zetterberg has fought through back issues since undergoing surgery in 2014, but despite playing all 82 games in each of the past three seasons, the back has affected him.

“It actually started last season,” Zetterberg told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “I felt in February that something was not right, and then we decided that I would stop practicing and just play games. That way I could complete the season.”

He totalled 56 points (11 goals, 45 assists) in 2017-18, finishing seven points back of Dylan Larkin for the team lead. He has recorded at least 43 points in all 15 of his NHL seasons and has 960 for his career, ranking fifth in Red Wings history. Only four active NHL players — assuming Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau continue their careers — have more points.

Zetterberg has spent the last six seasons as the Red Wings’ captain. Only Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Sid Abel have served as captain for at least seven seasons in franchise history.