Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Johan Franzen Jersey Card

It's not getting any better for Mike Babcock's reputation, as Chris Chelios had things to say on the Spittin' Chicklets podcast, and Johan Franzen corroborated he was on the bad end of Babcock's moods, going so far as saying he was “the worst person I have ever met. A great coach, but he's a terrible person, the worst I ever met. He’s a bully who was attacking people. It could be a cleaner at the arena in Detroit or anybody. He would lay into people without any reason.”

So not just scratching Mike Modano playing for his hometown Detroit Red Wings for ten straight games so he could retire with 1500 games played, scratching Jason Spezza in what would have been his first game as a member of his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs because it was against his former team - but actual verbal abuse rough enough to launch a player suffering from a concussion into a full-blown depression.

And Franzen came to Detroit the same year Babcock started, the 2005-06 season, playing two games in 2015-16, the year after Babcock left - and had been on LTIR since.

The Mule wasn't just a bit player who won an Olympic gold medal with Team Sweden in 2006 and a Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008; he had 18 points in 16 games during that Cup run and 23 points in 23 games the following team when the Wings lost the the Pittsburgh Penguins in 7 games. He holds the team records for most game-winning goals in a single month (6), most goals in a single playoff series (9), most game-winners in a playoff year (5), most points in a playoff game (6), shares the team record for most consecutive playoff point streak (12 games, with Gordie Howe) and the mark for most goals in a post-season (13, with Henrik Zetterberg) and the NHL record for most points in a 40-game series (9).

In my lifetime, he's probably the third-best playoff performer I've seen play for Motown, after Nicklas Lidstrom and Zetterberg, ahead of Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Vernon, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov.

His regular-season numbers were nothing to sneeze at either, with four 25-goal seasons in five years - with a high of 34 in 2008-09 - and the one where he didn't put up those numbers on an even better pace, with 10 goals, 11 assists and 21 points in 23 games in 2009-10.

At 6'4" and 230 pounds, he wasn't physically weak, in case carrying the Wings on his back in the postseason didn't clue you in on that. He wasn't mentally weak either. But he still hasn't recovered from the physicality of the game coupled with the PTSD that came with Babcock piling on with his own shit.

I hope he can continue to improve as he turns 40 in 20 days, and lives a great retirement. He's more than earned it.

Here he is wearing the Red Wings' white (away) uniform on the dual jersey silver version of card #41 from Upper Deck's 2012-13 Artifacts set, numbered 80/125:
I got this one on Ebay a couple of weeks ago hoping to talk about Franzen again eventually, I just had no idea it would come so soon. It features two red game-worn jersey swatches.

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