One positive of the lockout has been that Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg have been able to play together. The original plan of the Red Wings was to have Brunner head to the Grand Rapids Griffins and play in the minor leagues during the lockout. That changed, though, when it was decided that he would stay in the Swiss league.
It seemed like an odd move at first; after all, they had said that they wanted him to get used to the North American game. The real reason for him to stay there became clearer a few weeks later when Zetterberg signed with the same team.
In what may end up being viewed as Zetterberg's first move as captain, he has shown up in Switzerland to build chemistry with Brunner. So far the results have been amazing.
They both joined the team after the season started but are already first and fourth on the teams' scoring stats. Brunner leads the team with 11 goals and 17 assist in 17 games. Zetterberg has eight goals and five assist in only seven games. Each of them is well above a point per game average. It is good to see that their defense has not suffered either with Brunner at plus ten and Zetterberg plus seven.
Perhaps the best news out of this is how Zetterberg is playing. Bleacher Report’s Isaac Smith recently asked if the captaincy may rejuvenate his game. It appears that playing with Brunner might play an even larger role in reigniting him.
While there still will be an adjustment for Brunner once he hits North America, it should be easier with the chemistry and playing time that he is developing with Zetterberg. When the Red Wings did not land one of the bigger-name free agents after Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both went to the Minnesota Wild, the Brunner signing became that much more important.
With the skill set that Brunner has, many believe that he might be the steal of this year’s free-agent crop. Now seeing how well the two of them have played together, one cannot help but get excited about seeing him in a Detroit uniform.
Brunner has been on a tear in the Swiss-A league for a few seasons. Having Zetterberg join him and explode as well is a great sign. Hopefully when, or if, the NHL decides to play games again these two will be able to continue to build on their joint success.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
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