When Johan Franzen missed Game 4 in the Red Wings first round series with Phoenix, many assumed it was due to his horrific looking facial injuries suffered when he went face-first into the boards in Game 2. After all, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think he may have suffered a concussion or was still dealing with other issues taking such a spill into the boards.
Turns out Franzen’s ankle is what’s been bothering him after hurting it in Game 3 against Phoenix. It was bothering him so much that it took him out of action for Game 4 of that series and after getting by on it poorly so far in this series and taking another hit to it from Joe Thornton in last night’s Game 5, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is looking at other options.
The leading choice he can make right now is in the form of 40 year-old American hockey legend Mike Modano. Modano took Franzen’s spot in Game 4 against Phoenix and while Modano has been a bit sullen throughout the playoffs about not getting to play more often, or at all, coach Mike Babcock says the job is his if Franzen cannot go.
When asked after the Wings arrived back in Detroit Monday afternoon about Franzen’s status for Game 6 Babcock said, “I don’t know. I’m not going to worry about that much. We’ll see what happens. If he’s not ready to go, we’ll put Modano in.”
Babcock says he’s not worried about Franzen but he should be. Franzen has been a huge performer in the past in the playoffs scoring goals by the bucketload. Now, Franzen with his gimpy ankle have been laboring around the ice and ineffective. Making a potential switch now would make sense to have a fully healthy array of starters. That said, if Babcock offers to go with Franzen who may be at 70% of what he can do, that speaks volumes about what he makes of Modano’s (or anyone else who could fill into the lineup) ability.
In the playoffs you need your best players to be at their best, but if they’re hurting so badly that their presence is detrimental to the team, that pride in wanting to play might need to be put aside for a while to get healthier to a point. I doubt Franzen would ever take himself out of the lineup and that’s where Babcock has to be absolutely sure he’s making the right move for both the player and team.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.