Derek Jeter Ruined Hockey, Causes Henrik Zetterberg To Announce Retirement 2 Years In Advance

New Jersey Devils v Detroit Red Wings

Sportsnet – Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg reportedly plans on forgoing the final two years of his front-loaded contract and retire after the 2018-19 NHL season when he’d be paid a fraction of what he’s earned in recent years.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet quotes the veteran forward saying he’ll likely skip the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons in which he’s signed for just $1 million for each season. “The only reason why we wrote such a long contract was because of the payroll,” said Zetterberg, translated by the Detroit News. “It is quite obvious that you try to fool the system. Actually, I may have two years left, but I have also learned to take one year at a time. But I will probably not play until then.”

I remember a time back when men used to play hockey until their legs fall off. And once their legs fell off, they’d play a few more seasons for the love of the game. And once they physically couldn’t play anymore, they’d wake up that day and announce their retirement effective immediately. It was subtle. It was classy. It was a great way for players to go out without putting too much attention on themselves rather than the teams.

Then Derek Jeter came along and ruined everything by announcing his retirement a year ahead of time. Just like that, the Farewell Tour was born. Where individual athletes put themselves ahead of the team for at least an entire season. And it looks like the epidemic has finally reached hockey with Henrik Zetterberg announcing his retirement a whopping 2-years ahead of time. It makes me sick. Zetterberg is a legend. I’d put him right up there with Gordie and Yzerman and Fedorov and Lidstrom and Datsyuk as one of the best Detroit Red Wings of all time. It just pains me to see him take this route on his way out.

I know it’s more of a salary cap issue than a “hey everybody look at me” move. Here’s what Zetterberg’s current contract looks like right now courtesy of CapFriendly.

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His cap hit stays the same throughout the 12 years. But they loaded up the first 8 years. He takes a $500K hit this year. Drops down to $3.35M next year. And then only has $2 million left for the last two years of his contract. He’ll be 39 and 40 years old the 2019-21 seasons. A 39-year-old legend playing for the same amount of money as Jesper Fast. Can’t blame the guy for wanting to just walk away at that point. Granted, 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr would kill for any contract right now in the NHL. But I don’t even think he’d play for a few pennies more than entry level money.

P.S. – Zetterberg sits at 904 points right now. Lowest point total in his career was 43. Wouldn’t hate to see Z get himself to 1000 before hanging them up. Olympic gold medalist. Stanley Cup Champion. Conn Smythe winner. 1000 point scorer. That’s a no-brainer Hall of Fame career.