By Jesse O’Brien –
TRAVERSE CITY — With a new face roaming the bench this season, the Red Wings likely will lean harder on one of their more familiar, and certainly most bearded, ones.
Entering his third year as captain, Henrik Zetterberg will play a crucial role in helping Detroit maintain a sense of stability in its first season under head coach Jeff Blashill, who took over after 10-year coach Mike Babcock bolted for Toronto in the offseason. But while there’s been concern about what the changing of the guard means for the Red Wings, Zetterberg sees it as an opportunity for the team to reset and refocus under fresh leadership.
“I think (Blashill has a) different voice,” Zetterberg said. “And before (with Babcock), we knew what was going on, we knew every play, we knew every meeting and now it’s different and that’s refreshing. You’ve got to pay a little more attention.”
For Zetterberg, this first week of training camp is getting off to a quicker start than in recent years. Going into the offseason with a relatively clean bill of health after a 77-game 2014-15 campaign — the most games he’s played in a season since 2011-12 — Zetterbeg was able to turn his attention to staying in shape and focused on the upcoming season instead of rehab from injuries.
“I could definitely prepare better, workout wise,” Zetterberg said of his offseason routine. “I didn’t have to do that much rehab so I’ve just got to see how it translates to ice.”
It translated pretty well on Friday.
The captain notched the game winning goal to help Team Lindsay rally for a 4-3 win over Team Howe in the first intrasquad scrimmage of team camp.
“I thought Z was really good,” Blashill said. “I thought he was skating great, so that’s a good sign too.”
Nyquist and Abdelkader each had goals for the Lindsay squad as well, while 2014 first round draft pick Dylan Larkin scored the game opening goal for Team Howe.
Ever the diplomat, Zetterberg was quick to give out credit to his linemates for his play on Friday.
“Mostly it was fun to be out there for the first day of camp,” Zetterberg said “I think we had the best setup today, practice, then scrimmage. I think our line had a good start, both (Gustav Nyquist) and (Justin Abdelkader) were flying out there so it made it easier for me.”