SAN JOSE, Calif. – Henrik Zetterberg strode up a ramp, greeted reporters with a cheery hello, and skated onto the ice.
His presence at SAP Center boded encouraging news for the Detroit Red Wings, who last saw their captain on ice last Saturday. He left that Dallas game after Jamie Benn first elbowed and then punched Zetterberg in the head, and as recently as Tuesday, Zetterberg wasn’t doing anything more strenuous than a light bike ride.
Thursday, he was doing much better, describing it as “fun to be out on the ice again. That’s a step I’m going to take and hopefully I can do more tomorrow.
“I’d hoped to be back a few days before, but obviously it’s fun to be able to be on the ice again and be allowed to be on the ice again. Just got to see how I respond to this and take it from there.”
No one has labelled what Zetterberg had as a concussion. He did have headaches, and when he spoke two days earlier in Los Angeles, he avoided standing in bright light and said he wasn’t 100%. He is now, at least, closer to that. “I feel better than I did last time we talked,” Zetterberg said. “So hopefully I feel even more better when next time we talk. I got a little symptoms, still, but it’s significantly better than last time.”
The decision to join his teammates as they wrapped up their morning skate in preparation for the evening’s game against the Sharks was made after conferring with team medical personnel. “We agreed I could be out for 10 minutes and skate around a little bit and see how that goes,” Zetterberg said.
Coach Mike Babcock said he expects Zetterberg to play Wednesday when the Wings host the New York Rangers. Zetterberg said “I’m only thinking about tomorrow and what I can do tomorrow, and then tomorrow I’m going to think about what I’m going to do the next day. So, I haven’t really thought about what game. I’m just taking it day by day.”
The Wings aren’t scheduled to practice Friday, won’t have a morning skate Saturday because the Nashville game is an afternoon one, and have Sunday off. If Zetterberg continues to improve, that would still leave him with two practices and a morning skate to be ready for the Rangers.
Given how serious head injuries can be, the Wings are fortunate Zetterberg may end missing no more than four games. He’s hasn’t played in two games, and is still tied with Pavel Datsyuk as the team’s leading scorer with 49 points. “It was definitely good to see Hank out there,” Gustav Nyquist said.
Contact Helene St. James: email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.
RED WINGS WATCH
■THURSDAY: At San Jose, (n)
■SATURDAY: At Nashville
■TIME/TV: 3 p.m./FSD