Born October 9, 1980 (age 31) in Njurunda, Sweden
Center/left wing and alternate captain for the Detroit Red Wings
This MotD selection is for Zane, Krista’s 10-year-old nephew who isn’t super into hockey but in talking with his auntie recently wanted to see Zetterberg profiled. You got it, Zane. Zetterberg began his career playing for his hometown squad, earning himself the nickname “Zetty the Grizzly Teddy” because of that facial hair of his. The arena in his hometown is now named for him and for fellow alum Fredrik Modin. Aw! Zetterberg caught the eye of Red Wings staffers while in a Finnish tournament and they took him 210th overall in 1999. But before making the jump to North America, he played for two more years in Sweden, debuting as a Red Wing in 2002. He did so well in his rookie campaign that he was second in votes for the Calder. He quite nearly matched his rookie year output in his sophomore season even though he missed 21 games with a broken leg. The following year had no NHL season, so he returned to Sweden.
Once the NHL was back on, Zetterberg was named an alternate and started becoming part of an all-Swedish starting lineup. He helped Sweden get the gold in the 2006 Olympics as well. In 2007, Wayne Gretzky referred to him as one of the most underrated players in the league. (Um…WOW.) He got even more honors when the Red Wings won the Cup in 2008 and he scored the game-winning goal in game six. He also got the Conn Smythe! Also, because of this victory, the Olympic gold and previous Worlds success, he is one of the 25 members of the Triple Gold Club. These kinds of career highlights will get you the big bucks and for him it sure did: after 2008-09, he resigned for 12 years and $73 million with Detroit. Yes, 12 years. He is going to be a big part of the Red Wings for years and years to come. I mean, last season he had great output: 80 games, 24 goals, 56 assists, 40 penalty minutes, plus 7 games, 3 goals, 5 assists, 2 penalty minutes in the playoffs.
By the way, that nickname Zäta is pronounced “Zaeta,” which is how the Swedes say the letter z. Other nicknames include “Curly Fries”, “Zeekerberg,” “Hank” and the aforementioned teddy bit. No matter what you choose to call him, there’s a lot there to be proud of!