Apr 27, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Johan Franzen (93) warms up before the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Red Wings shut out the Stars 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Lazy Mule: A Johan Franzen Story

Johan Franzen received the nickname “The Mule” from Steve Yzerman because he was big, strong, and he worked very hard to make the team. Now it seems that name does not fit as well as it used to.

As fans, we have all seen Johan Franzen check himself out on shifts or for entire games, but that was always a physical laziness. During Training Camp I saw a different kind of laziness that is much more troubling.

The Red Wings were working on their cycling drills and Mike Babcock did a walk-through of the drill while explaining it. Right after finishing the walk-through Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall, and Jonathan Ericsson sent up to start the drill, but there was a problem.

Johan Franzen did not know what he was supposed to do: he lined up in the wrong spot, he passed to the wrong player, and he moved to the wrong areas of the ice. It seemed as though he never even listened to what Mike Babcock had told him to do.

His missteps were making his line-mates frustrated and caught the ire of Associate Captain Kronwall who tried to calmly explain what the Mule was supposed to do, but as the conversation went on both players became more heated.

Then Mike Babcock decided to get into the fray by showing Franzen once again how to so the drill, but even with all the help Franzen once again screwed up an easy drill, which newbies Kevin Lynch, Barclay Goodrow, and Tyler Bertuzzi had down pat on their first try.

Babcock took his line out of the drill and sent the Drew MillerCory EmmertonPatrick Eaves line, which preformed the drill as intended on their first try.

As Emmerton’s line was working through the drill Mike Babcock had a few choice words and some encouragement for the Mule, who on his next try preformed the drill correctly.

Most people have come to accept the Mule’s lazy fits from time to time, but it is a different story if the player is mentally not there.

When a player checks out mentally it makes it seem as if they do not care about getting better and that they could care less about the team.

I hope that it was just a one time Training Camp issue, but when something like that happens in a practice then it will most certainly carry over into  game.

If it does happen during a game then Babcock will either have to beat it out of him or promote another player to the second line until the Mule is able to get back on track.

There is no player like the Mule on the Red Wings and they need him to be fully engaged for the whole season.

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