Detroit forward Johan Franzen has turned down “several” media requests for interviews during the team’s opening-round series against Boston and, on Friday, Wings head coach Mike Babcock addressed the elephant in the dressing room.
From CBS Detroit:
“This is what I would say to you – I think Mule’s a real good person, a real good man, real good family man, tries to be a real good teammate, sometimes doesn’t handle you people as well as he should to help himself.
“To me, if you just step right up and just talk, it makes it easy. But when you don’t, things build and then I think that puts more pressure on yourself. I don’t know why you do that. Sometimes, and it’s no different than companies. You see this every day in business is you have a meeting, no one says anything, you walk out the door and you talk behind each other’s back. If you just call each other up and have the hard meeting, then everyone would leave and we’d get on with progress.
“Have the hard interview and get on with it and make it easier on yourself. He’s a man. He’s got to deal with that himself.”
Exacerbating the issue has been Franzen’s lack of production this series — no goals and just one assist through four games, with a mere 10 total shots on goal. For someone that’s had as much playoff success as Franzen (80 points in 106 career games), it’s not surprising reporters want to speak to him this time of year, more so given he’s struggled to produce.
When asked about Franzen’s lack of scoring thus far, Babcock was blunt.
“We need more out of the Mule,” Babcock said, per the Macomb Daily. “Plain and simple.”
We should find out next week if Mike Fisher is going to retire or keep playing for the Predators.
Fisher, Nashville’s 37-year-old captain, is an unrestricted free agent. He confirmed last month that he was considering retirement. But first, he needed some time to think.
Yesterday, Preds GM David Poile said he expected an answer soon.
“I’m hoping to talk to him later this week to see where he’s at,” Poile said, per The Tennessean. “I’d say by next week, we should have an update.”
Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists in 72 games last season, but then had just four assists in 20 playoff games as the Preds reached their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.
If Fisher re-signs, he’ll likely be in the bottom six next season, with Ryan Johansen and newly signed Nick Bonino expected to center the top two lines. Fisher could even be the fourth-line center or a winger, allowing the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau to take on bigger roles.
But for Fisher, hockey isn’t everything, and after more than 1,000 games in the NHL, he may simply opt to hang up the skates.
“Everyone wants to win in this game, no one probably more than me,” Fisher said. “But there’s other things. At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s an important part of my life, but it’s not everything.”
Related: Predators take Stanley Cup loss with grace and optimism
The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.
This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.
Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.
What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.
That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.
Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.
The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.
Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.
In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.
“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”
The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.
The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.
Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.
The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.
With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.
But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.
Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season