Johan Franzen (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Detroit Red Wings have placed Johan Franzen on IR with post-concussion-like symptoms and there’s no timetable for his return. Franzen, 35, missed 49 games in 2014-15 following his second concussion in less than a year. Franzen had been cleared to return to action before training camp, but said one more bad hit would probably end his career.
The Red Wings have started their 2015-16 season with three straight victories, but it’s not all good news in Detroit as Johan Franzen has been placed on the injured reserve with post-concussion-like symptoms.
Franzen heading to IR dealing with concussion issues is heart-breaking, because the 35-year-old missed 49 games in 2014-15 following two serious concussions in little more than a year. Heading into the season, Franzen had worked extremely hard in order to get back on the ice and had said before the season began that one more bad hit would probably be the end of his career.
So when the Red Wings’ right winger missed Tuesday’s game with what was called an illness, there was immediate cause for concern. The worst was confirmed Thursday afternoon, when Detroit GM Ken Holland told media Franzen was on the IR with symptoms that appear related to his head injuries.
“He worked hard to come back, and everything was going well,” Holland told The Detroit News’ Gregg Krupa. “But after he left the other day, we got a call saying some of the symptoms he had previously have returned…There is a lot of life after hockey, and we certainly don’t want to be putting a player in a position where he feels pressured to play in those circumstances.”
A four-time 25-goal scorer, Franzen’s career has been plagued by a number of ailments, but nothing has threatened to claim his career quite like his string of head injures. His last concussion -- the fourth of his career since entering the league in 2005 -- occurred on a seemingly innocuous collision against the Edmonton Oilers in January 2014. Franzen struggled to get cleared to return to action, but was finally given the nod just before Red Wings training camp opened.
"You don’t like to see anybody go through injury issues, and certainly for him he’s battled, worked hard through the summer, got himself in great position," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "So you certainly don't want to see it, none of his teammates want to see it, I don't want to see it but it's the reality right now and I feel extraordinarily bad for him.”
How long Franzen will be out has yet to be determined with Holland saying Franzen will first be on the seven-day IR, but there's potential for him to be placed on the long-term IR if he can’t come back to the lineup. One has to wonder, though, if this will be it for ‘The Mule,' especially after his comments prior to training camp.
“I’m not going to go through (dealing with bad symptoms) again,” Franzen told ABC Detroit’s Brad Galli in September. “I’m not going to put my family through that again…Right now, I’m not thinking about that. I’m just trying to do my best out there and have as much fun as I can.”
Franzen was one of the key contributors on the Red Wings Stanley Cup-winning team in 2008 and had been one of the main members of the current Detroit roster. During the 2007-08 Cup run, Franzen notched 13 goals and 18 points in 16 games and his 12 goals and 23 points in 2008-09 nearly helped the Red Wings capture back-to-back championships. Franzen has scored 187 goals and 370 points in 602 career games and is in the seventh year of an 11-year, $43.5-million contract with Detroit.