By Frank Pingue
SOCHI, Russia, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Sweden's gold medal hopes at the Sochi Olympics were dealt a blow as captain Henrik Zetterberg was ruled out of the men's ice hockey tournament with a herniated disc, the team said on Friday.
Zetterberg, who has had recurring back issues for years and suffered a herniated disc last December, will return home as soon as possible for treatment.
"There is no chance at all in the time we've got here that he will be able to train or play," Sweden doctor Bjorn Waldeback told reporters.
"It was no tough decision as this was no borderline case. For people who know medicine it is obvious that this couldn't continue."
Zetterberg, 33, played about 18 minutes in his team's first game of the Olympics, scoring one goal in a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic. He started to feel pain on Thursday when he missed the team practice and photo.
The Swedish team also lost Johan Franzen and Henrik Sedin in the lead-up to the Sochi Olympics.
"We are used to people coming and going, disappearing with injuries and things. It's a part of the sport. So it shouldn't be any problem in any way," said defenseman Erik Karlsson.
"We play with what we have and we have such depth in our team that we shouldn't have to worry too much." (Editing by Ed Osmond)