Swedish paper Expressen published an interview with Z today. Sorry about my English, it's not my native language!
Everywhere inside Detroits dressing room you can hear players answer questions about their captain, how much he means for his team, and what makes him so good.
After the practice we're in Henrik Zetterbergs Range Rover, on our way from the worn out parts of Detroit, to the suburb Birmingham, where the main part of the players live. It's when we're getting closer, I start to see why some of the clubs greatest have chosen to stay after they stopped playing.
- It's very nice out here, Zäta says.
Everyone is saluting you for your captaincy. What exactly is it, that you do so good?
- I really don't know. We are many players that's been here a long time, and we went the same school, with so many great leaders around us all the time. I'm not thinking about it; it's a natural leadership. It's not like you walk around thinking about what to say, it just comes to you.
Can you pick something you picked up from your predecessors?
- The main thing is to lead by example, both Yzerman and Lids are representatives of that. They really stepped forward when most needed, and were always there for their team mates.
Exactly like Zetterberg needed to do earlier in January - when the 23 year old team mate Tomas Tatar got the message that his father had died in Slovakia. The day after Tatar won the game for the team in LA, before he went home to bury his father.
You hugged him a bit extra and whispered something in his ear. It was a picture spread in many social medias.
-Yes, I don't think any of us thought about it when it happened, it just was when he scored... of course it was emotional for the whole team. All the things he went through, and he was the one that got to decide the game, he stayed those two games before he went home. We won the game and it came about very naturally. It was a special moment for the whole team.
Zetterberg continue to talk about to take care of the young guys.
-I think I was kind of spoiled when I came to the league. No one was really unkind or though with the new guys, they took really care of us. And I really try to be there for the new ones now. If they are comfortable of course they play better too.
Detroit haven't missed playoff in 22 years. This year many people are worried. The list of hurt players have been brutal, and right now it's Zetterberg that have to take a heavy load both in the offensive and defensive game. The pressure before the Olympics will be immense.
-It's been pretty hard. We've had many injuries and guys hurt all the time. i don't think we had ordinary line-up in one single game. The guys from Grand Rapids are doing are doing a fine job, I think. But it would be nice to get the ordinary team gathered after the Olympics, and to a push to try to get up in the standings.
Are you and Emma feeling more at home for every year?
-Yes, it's more and more becoming our home. I've been here for 10-11 years. For every years that goes by it's a bigger chance that we remain here after I stop playing. We like it very much here, it's a terrific city and unbelievable nice people. It's a nice place to live in.
Pavel Datsyuk. Are you able to add something about that's not been said about this hockey phenomenon?
- We got close very early. He came in one year before me, and we played together, on and off for 10 years. It's a unbelievable guy, and a really good teammate. He does everything right out there. You never stop to be amazed what he does out there. Often he does a move in practice that we just laugh about, then he does it in the games too.
What do you think makes him so good?
- He's got an unbelievable balance. How he skates, and how strong he is on his legs. And he's got magic hands, which make him able to things in and off balance. It's hard to see what he will do. When I look back at my career I will understand how lucky I've been to play with him almost the whole time.
In the Olympics I'll count on you to stop him.
- Yes... it's kind of hard actually. But it's about to take away the space from him. When he's got space and is up to speed he's dangerous. He's a key player for Russia, and if you can get him off balance much is won. But it's not easy to do.
He's got to stop you to, at the same time, you must not forget that.
- Yes it's a bit of a balance there. To have the puck feels like a key, so that you don't have to chase him around.
If you got to talk about the Sweden team in The Olympics?
- We got an unbelievable good team; many have been around for a long time and been playing good in their clubs. Of course we haven't got the depth that Canada and USA got, so we got to have everyone healthy. But if we got that, gold isn't impossible.
How did you celebrate the last Olympics?
- The last time we didn't celebrate, I can tell you that.
Of course. 2006 in Torino I meant.
- That was a fantastic experience. To win with the guys, that did their last international games. Peter, Mats, Lids, Homer. It was a special team we got then. To win together with Peter, Sudden (Sundin) and Affe (Alfie), that you looked up to, since you were a kid. It also was cool to get to Stockholm to see the support there too.
It's an important game immediately, against the Czechs. It can decide the group.
- Yes, it's important to get a game like that immediately, so that you get a feel if something is not right, or to know if something needs to be corrected. Previous gold-tournaments an early wake-up call maybe has been good, to not just cruise through the early games and then meet a good team, and all of a sudden the tournament is over.
Jagr and Nedved are two experienced guys to take care of.
- Jagr, you got to say, has had a terrific year over here. Nedved, I really don't know where he is playing actually. But it will be good to get into the tournament and meet a good team straight away.
Which team do you like to beat in the final?
- Would be nice to meet them, and defeat them in a final. It's something special to meet Canada and get to win against them.
Has it something to do with Sidney Crosby, and your history in Stanley Cup? Would it be nice to win against him?
- No it's not so much about him, but it would be nice to beat your coach.
How is Mike Babcock anyway, he looks maniacal?
Yes he can get mad sometimes. But it's a bit special, I had him as a coach for nine years now, and it would be nice to really play them in a final and win.
Edited by Wingscup, 26 January 2014 - 02:50 PM.