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Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg retiring after 15 seasons

AP

Henrik Zetterberg knew something wasn’t right with his back last January when he stopped practicing. Despite the aches and pains, he did not miss a game all season for the Detroit Red Wings.

When Zetterberg, 37, laced up his skates for the final game of the regular season, he thought that might be the finale of his career. He held out hope over the summer his career could resume and was still clinging to that when he met with a doctor last week.

“Got the final result and nothing really had changed,” Zetterberg told reporters Friday. “So, that’s kind of when it kicked in.”

Zetterberg, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the top player in the postseason when the Red Wings hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2008, is calling it a career. The skillful, smooth-skating Swede is a member of a select group of players that has won a Stanley Cup, world championship and Olympic gold.

And now he is done, another blow for a proud franchise that has struggled in recent years.

“Obviously, it is emotional,” Zetterberg said. “It’s been 15 years here. Even though I knew I was on my last couple years, I wish that I could have played a little bit longer.”

Zetterberg will go on long-term injured reserve with three years left on his 12-year, $73 million contract.