Puck Daddy - NHL

Whenever there's a sense of pessimism about the Detroit Red Wings chances to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, there's a date that comes to mind: Oct. 8, 2009.

That's the last time forward Johan Franzen(notes) laced up his skates as a Red Wing, before a torn left ACL halted his season. He was coming off a career year and adds immeasurable balance to the Detroit offense. Getting him back this month will arguably be the most significant roster addition in the NHL not named Kovalchuk. 

The Wings said Wednesday that Franzen's target date to return is next Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, putting his rehab time at the minimum of four months and potentially giving him three games before the Olympic break. Then he can put his feet up on the coffee table and do whatever it is a guy nicknamed the Mule does to relax for a few weeks, having been left off the Team Sweden Olympic roster.

That snub didn't exactly sit well with Franzen. In speaking with Swedish newspaper Expressen (article hilariously translated here, including the phrase "it feels a little sandbox on the whole"), Franzen said Team Sweden officials "made a mistake and they want to hide it" after keeping him off the roster.

According to the admittedly rough translation, the paper previously reported that Swedish head coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson hadn't spoken to Franzen since November and that the team didn't consult Detroit doctors about his injury rehab.

His snub has been controversial among Swedish fans, hoping their team can repeat its gold medal performance from 2006. Seeing him playing hockey again before the Games doesn't help matters aesthetically. So what better way to fend off controversy then by claiming Detroit rushed back one of its star players from a major injury because the Wings are on the playoff bubble?

From the Detroit Free Press:

"You can ask yourself the following question: Would he have been back on the team if Detroit would have been first in the conference? Or is it because they're in a tough spot?" team manager Mats Näslund told the Swedish newspaper Expressen. "Surely it's been forced because of the situation the Red Wings are in."

His voice heavy with sarcasm, Franzen told the Free Press: "He should know about me. He's around here every day. Has he seen me practice? I don't think so. ... I'm going to try to get three games in here before the break, but I probably won't be 100% and then I don't want to play in Olympics. I don't want to risk not being any good."

This is the weird part of this back-and-forth: Is Franzen saying that he's not healthy enough for the Olympics, or is he being overly cautious because of this spat with Swedish officials? And does any of this have to do with former teammate Mikael Samuelsson(notes) going all Dick Cheney on the Swedes for his snub?

Back to the character assassination of Red Wings brass, via the Freep:

Swedish doctor Bjorn Waldebäck also lobbed a shot at the Wings, telling Expressen that "letting (Franzen) play within the first six months after the injury is way too early, medically. ... They are risking the function of his knee."

The Wings signed Franzen to an 11-year, $43 million contract last April, and don't exactly have a reputation for rushing players back from injury (see: Lilja, Andreas).

Anyone know the Swedish phrase for "diversionary tactic?"

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog