Mikael Backlund Replaces Henrik Zetterberg on Team Sweden

Team Sweden’s Henrik Zetterberg is injured and will be replaced by Mikael Backlund, head coach Rikard Grönborg announced on Thursday.

Zetterberg, 35, was named the captain of Team Sweden on Aug. 11 and all signs had pointed to the Detroit Red Wings forward playing in the tournament. The World Cup will take place Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.

Mikael Backlund Calgary Flames
Backlund is coming off of a career year for the Flames in 2015-16. (Icon SMI)

Zetterberg has been a staple on Swedish national teams for more than a decade and was a member of Sweden’s 2006 gold medal-winning effort at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and silver medal-winning team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

For the Red Wings, today’s announcement about Zetterberg’s status is concerning for a team that is riddled with injuries as the team prepares for the start of the 2016-17 season.

On July 5, the Red Wings announced forward Teemu Pulkkinen underwent surgery to repair an old shoulder injury and was expected to miss three to five months.

On Aug. 24, Sweden announced defenseman Niklas Kronwall would be replaced by Hampus Lindholm at the World Cup due to a knee injury. At the time, Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Kronwall made the decision to skip the World Cup so that he would be 100% at when Wings’ training camp opened in September.

On Aug. 27, the Red Wings announced that forward Tomas Jurco underwent back surgery and would miss four to six weeks. It is uncertain whether Jurco will be ready for action when the Red Wings open the regular season. The team is also dealing with a wrist injury to prospect Vili Saarijarvi and adjusting to life after Pavel Datsyuk, the star forward that left the Wings for the KHL earlier this summer.

On Team Sweden, Zetterberg will be replaced by Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund. The 27-year-old has previously represented his country during multiple U-18 World Junior Championship, World Junior Championship and World Championship tournaments. In 46 games at the junior and senior levels, Backlund has registered 36 points.

Backlund was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames 24th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and has spent his entire NHL career with the organization. In 380 regular season games, the 6’1″, 199-pound center has registered 72 goals and 175 points. In 2015-16, Backlund set career highs in games played (82), goals (21), assists (26) and points (47).

For Sweden, the loss of a player like Zetterberg hurts the team on and off the ice. The captain of the Red Wings since fellow Swede Nicklas Lidstrom retired after the 2011-12 season, Zetterberg has also been a veteran leader for Sweden in the locker room.

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