NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2018

Henrik Zetterberg forced to retire plus updates on Corey Crawford, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Jake Dotchin and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: A degenerative back issue has forced Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg to retire. “Zetterberg steps away having played 1,082 games, and having produced 960 points. He has a Stanley Cup title from 2008, the same year he was named playoff MVP. ” He’s been dealing with back pain for several years, undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair an injured disc.

A nagging back injury has forced Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg to retire. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement isn’t really a surprise as the Wings have been hinting for weeks that Zetterberg’s playing days could be over. That doesn’t diminish the sadness over the premature end of his career. It truly is the end of an era. Zetterberg was among the few links to the Wings’ last Stanley Cup championship a decade ago.

Selected 210 overall in the 1999 NHL entry draft, Zetterberg made an immediate impact upon joining the Wings in 2002-03, tallying 22 goals and 44 points in 79 games. A versatile forward who could play center or wing, he established himself among the league’s best two-way players,  Even in his final seasons while plagued with a bad back, Zetterberg was still one of the Wings’ best players, tallying 50-or-more points in each of the last four years. 

Zetterberg never won the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward and was named a finalist only once, in 2007-08. Nevertheless, he became one of the NHL’s most respected players and was the natural choice to take over as the Wings captain following Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement in 2012. His retirement leaves a huge leadership void for the rebuilding Wings that will be difficult to replace. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford admitted he’s still recuperating from concussion symptoms suffered during last season. Though he’s made progress in his recovery, he said he’s not ready yet to come back and had no timetable for his return. Meanwhile, defenseman Connor Murphy will be sidelined up to eight weeks with a back injury while Brent Seabrook will miss a week with an abdominal injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks’ season hinges on a healthy Crawford between the pipes. They brought in Cam Ward this summer as insurance but he’s no longer considered an elite goaltender. Ward can buy them some time but they need Crawford  if they’re to contend for the playoffs. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators confirmed center Jean-Gabriel Pageau will be sidelined a minimum of six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles’ tendon in his right leg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having watching franchise player Erik Karlsson traded away to San Jose on Thursday, Pageau’s injury is just salt in the wound for Senators fans. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning placed defenseman Jake Dotchin on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract for a material breach. Details weren’t disclosed but it’s believed they were unhappy over Dotchin’s conditioning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Joe Smith reports Dotchin and his agent intend to fight the Lightning’s attempt to terminate his contract. Cap Friendly indicates he’s in the final season of a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $812,500. 

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel will miss training camp owing to a concussion suffered during an informal scrimmage before his arrival in Vancouver.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have invited winger Joel Ward to training camp on a professional tryout offer.