International Ice Hockey Federation

Life after Hank

Life after Hank

Sweden's players reflect on losing Zetterberg

Published 15.02.2014 01:01 GMT+4 | Author Andy Potts
Life after Hank
Henrik Zetterberg was only able to play the game against the Czech Republic in Sochi 2014. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Star centre Henrik Zetterberg is 'still with us somehow' according to his colleagues on the Swedish roster, despite flying home with a back injury.

The news that Henrik Zetterberg's Olympics are over after just one game has sent shockwaves through the hockey tournament in Sochi.

Many regarded the centre as Sweden's most deadly weapon in its quest for gold, and he wasted little time in demonstrating his value with the game-winning goal against the Czechs in his only Sochi showing.

Pundits have greeted his withdrawal with a herniated disc in his back with a mixture of dismay at the loss of one of the top players in the game and relief on behalf of Sweden's rivals who no longer have to deal with his scoring skills.

But the biggest impact, inevitably, was felt within the Swedish national team, which was told the news before Friday's game against Switzerland.

In Zetterberg's absence, Tre Kronor edged a 1-0 verdict, but his enforced absence left his team-mates slightly subdued.

Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden's goalie, admitted the it was a big blow. "It was tough to hear the news - I felt my energy go down a little bit," he said. "It's a tough break for the whole team. He's our leader, our captain and one of our best players. It's almost impossible to replace him."

Niklas Kronwall, who steps up to the captain's role, recognized the efforts that Zetterberg had made to join the roster in the first place despite his injury worries. "We all know what he goes through on a daily basis to be able to play," he said. "For him to sit out, it’s pretty bad. But saying that, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to find a way through it. He won’t be with us anymore but somehow he’ll still be around somehow."

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Gabriel Landeskog, who would have been playing on the same line as Zetterberg, was blunt about the impact on the players: "It sucks. We’re not going to lie. But at the same time, it sucks for a minute, and then you realize that we’ve got to move on. We can’t waste energy on that.

"We know he’s one of the best players in the world. But we have good enough players to go all the way here, good enough players to do what we’ve got to do to win hockey games."

For Carl Hagelin, although losing Zetterberg is a blow, history points to examples of teams losing experienced players and still achieving success.

"Last season at Ottawa they lost big players to injury but still went on a great run and reached the play-offs," recalled the New York Rangers forward. "First and foremost it means that some of our guys will have to play more minutes. We're all used to that. It's sad for Hank but we'll have to share that load."


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