Babcock perplexed by Franzen’s media silence


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.”

Franzen, Henrique, Kuemper named NHL’s three stars of the week

Detroit Red Wings v Florida Panthers

Last Wednesday, it was unclear if Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen would even be able to play after dealing with concussion symptoms. It turns out that he played well enough to head the NHL’s three stars of the week alongside second-place finisher Adam Henrique and third-place finisher Darcy Kuemper.

Franzen, 34: Scored three goals and two assists for five points in two games. His hat trick helped Andrew Hammond notch his first NHL appearance. He also got into a war of words with Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil, who called him “gutless” for backing down from a fight. Franzen clearly got the last laugh as Detroit won both of its games.

He has 28 points in 33 games this season.

Henrique, 24: The New Jersey Devils forward might have fresher legs after the Olympic break, as he recorded three straight two-point games for six points in the past week’s trio of contests. He’s clearly firing more shots on goal, too, as he had 12 in those three games. The Devils’ playoff odds could rise if Henrique provides quality secondary scoring with regularity.

Kuemper, 23: Josh Harding isn’t the only Minnesota Wild to have a surprising hot streak. Kuemper notched a shutout and only allowed one goal in two wins this past week to help Minnesota retain its playoff spot. Extending back before the Olympic break, Kuemper has a four-game winning streak going. The Wild may very well dismiss any urge to grab a goalie at the trade deadline thanks to Kuemper’s strong work while Niklas Backstrom struggles and Harding deals with health complications.

Neil blasts ‘gutless’ Franzen: ‘The guy has never fought a day in his life’

Chris Neil

The war of words between Chris Neil and Johan Franzen continues.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after Franzen said Neil “tried to be the hero” by picking a fight in the late stages of Detroit’s 6-1 blowout win, the Ottawa tough guy fired back with a litany of disparaging remarks.

Plenty to material to cover, so let’s just excerpt. From the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan:

“I’m there first shift and any shift he wants,” said Neil. “He wants to drop his purse, take the lipstick out, put it on his lips and ‘Let’s go.’ Anytime. Any day. Anywhere.

“I’m 6-foot-1, 215 lbs. He’s 6-foot-4, 240 lbs. I’m giving up height. I’m giving up weight. I’m not scared of him. Bring it on.”

And more…

“He was chirping about my cape or something…I will take my cape off whenever he takes the yellow streak off the middle of his back,” Neil said.

“You know that streak? It means a gutless streak,” said Neil. “When a guy comes across the blueline and pokes you in the groin with his stick in a 6-1 game and chops guys that’s a no brainer. He’s going to get it.”

Still more, from the Citizen’s Ken Warren:

“The guy has never fought a day in his life. I go out, stick up for my teammates day in day out, he just goes out and causes problems for his teammates.”

Barring an unlikely playoff match-up between the teams, the Senators and Red Wings won’t meet again this season, but it sure sounds like Neil will have a long memory.

“It doesn’t go unnoticed, we will be playing them again,” he said. “For a guy of his stature, who has won Stanley Cups, a gold medal (for Sweden)…I have respect for the good players in the league, for all the players in the league, and for him to go out and play like that, you lose some respect for him.”

As Warren points out, a playoff matchup between Detroit and Ottawa is unlikely — which is kind of unfortunate, because Thursday’s game was the last regular-season meeting of the year between the two.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Sens and Wings split the season series 2-2.

Franzen pokes fun at Neil playing ‘hero’ after Sens enforcer tried to fight him

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 10: Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the puck during a NHL game against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on December 10, 2013 in Sunrise, Florida.

Johan Franzen had a big night on Thursday as his hat trick performance led Detroit to a 6-1 victory, but with the game already decided, Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil tried to get something going.

Neil seemed intent on picking a fight with Franzen and even removed the Red Wings forward’s helmet. The officials quickly got involved, preventing the incident from potentially escalating further between Neil and a player that returned from a concussion on Wednesday.

You can see what happened here:

Both players ended up receiving misconducts and Neil got roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties thrown on top of that. Afterwards, Franzen was very open about his feelings regarding Neil.

“He usually shows up when the game is over and tries to be the hero,” Franzen said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “Puts his cape on and goes and flies out there.

“He doesn’t like to take heat from fans and coaches, he usually steps up when the game is over and shows he really fights hard.”

Senators coach Paul MacLean shrugged off the incident as just part of the game.

This was a tough loss for the Senators as they missed a critical opportunity to gain ground on Detroit in the race for a playoff spot. Ottawa is now five points shy of the Red Wings and the second Wild Card spot they possess.

Franzen’s hat trick leads to goalie Hammond’s NHL debut


Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond’s dream is coming true tonight as he made his NHL debut, but he probably didn’t think it would happen like this.

The 26-year-old netminder with 33 games worth of AHL experience entered the contest as Robin Lehner’s understudy because Craig Anderson is with his family for the birth of his child. Under normal circumstances, Nathan Lawson might have gotten the call over Hammond, but as TSN’s Steve Lloyd noted, Lawson had just returned from an injury.

Warming the bench was expected to be the highlight of Hammond’s stint with the team, but Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen had other plans.

Franzen beat Lehner three times tonight and the Senators goaltender allowed six goals on just 15 shots before he was mercifully pulled 25:04 minutes into the contest.

This was Franzen’s first hat trick since Nov. 8, 2011. It also continues his trend of dominating the Senators. He now has 12 goals in roughly eight and a half games against Ottawa, including his stunning five-goal night on Feb. 2, 2011.