Somehow we all knew that Johan Franzen‘s return would be short-lived, didn’t we?
After making an impact in his first game back after missing sixteen games (he had an assist on Gustav Nyquist‘s goal as well as some darn good defensive plays), it was disappointing to find out that he had a relapse in his concussion symptoms.
He had gone a week without headaches, a week of feeling clear headed and ready to play. And in a game when Henrik Zetterberg was a late scratch, the team needed a veteran player to center the top line. Franzen did his part and played extremely well.
This Red Wings team is unfortunately familiar with their players having nagging concussion symptoms. Andreas Lilja was out for an entire year, sidelined by a fight with Shea Weber that left him with an injured knee and a concussion. While Lilja was not a main player on the Red Wings, the team’s penalty kill hit 91% in the first ten games he returned. Likewise, Patrick Eaves took a puck to the jaw and was out from November 2011 until the start of the 2013 season in January. Most people believed he would never make a return.
For an asset, a key player, like Franzen to be sidelined for as long as guys like Eaves or Lilja would be a terrible loss, no matter what your personal opinions of Franzen may be. He was signed to such a long contract because Ken Holland saw his potential to be a core player on this team for the foreseeable future.
Yes, Franzen is a streaky player. Yes, Franzen has had his share of injuries that have sidelined him for long lengths of time (see 2009’s knee injury that only let him play 27 games that season). But he averages fifty points a season, and for a Red Wings team struggling with offense, that is a huge loss.
There’s only so much the youngsters can do. And it doesn’t help that Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg are both missing.
From Mlive and the mouth of Mike Babcock:
“Any time it’s a head injury — we’ve been through it a number of times — they’re hard things…Obviously, Mule thought he was ready and then found out he wasn’t. He’ll be out a few (games) for sure, anyways, and he continues to work with doctors at U-M; they’ll figure out when he’s available.”
Let’s hope that this setback isn’t a lengthy one. We all know the Red Wings can use support from anywhere. And Franzen knows when he has to carry the load and play his Mule-heart out.
Edit: It’s been announced that Franzen will not be playing for Sweden in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. This is a little disappointing but also extremely relieving. This will give him plenty of time to rest up and get back to 100% health.