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The Malik Report

Wait, what? The Mule has all the answers as to why the Red Wings lost their mojo?

MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to Red Wings forward Johan Franzen about both his disappointing 2011-2012 season and playoffs and his team’s stumbles from February onward, and, well…While Khan says that the Wings’ free agency shopping list does indeed include all of my hopes in that damn bottom-six winger with size to mash and grind on the fourth line, the top-pair defenseman the Wings couldn’t find after Brian Rafalski retired and Mike Babcock’s wished-for top-six goal-scorer, Franzen seems to suggest that the Wings missed Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s presences and leadership in unexpected ways:

“We need to have more fun out there, get some confidence back,’’ Franzen said. “We looked like a drained team, kind of, in most of the games. Get some joy back, believing in ourselves, knowing that we’re a good team, and play for each other.’‘

The Red Wings were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators. Franzen, speaking Tuesday, when players cleaned out their lockers, believes the handwriting was on the wall following a 7-11-4 finish to the regular season.

“We didn’t have a good ending to the season, eight wins in the last (27), including playoffs,’’ Franzen said. “You got to come into playoffs with confidence, otherwise it’s so tight. You’re playing a team with a really good defense and a great goalie (Pekka Rinne), so if you don’t have that extra thing to get through it’s going to be tough.’‘

Um…Exactly? You can keep on reading for more on that front from Franzen, but Khan delivers noteworthy quips from both Franzen and his coach regarding the Mule’s difficult playoff performance…and future with the team:

“Couldn’t really get anything going, that’s the way it was,’’ Franzen said. “I don’t really know why, just couldn’t get it in the net. It’s always frustrating when you lose.’‘

The Red Wings aren’t apt to trade Franzen after one bad postseason. Despite having eight years and $27.75 million remaining on his contract, he has a reasonable salary-cap hit ($3.95) for a player who has averaged 29.5 goals per season since 2007-08, excluding his injury-shortened 2009-10 season. It would be difficult to replace that production at that cost. Plus, they might lose their second-leading goal-scorer, Jiri Hudler, to free agency.

Others also struggled against Nashville. Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary had no goals. So coach Mike Babcock wasn’t about to single out Franzen.

“I don’t think we scored even-strength at all (four five-on-five goals in the series),’’ Babcock said. “I don’t think you want to point at the Mule. I think you want to point at all of us.’‘

Again, give the rest of Khan’s article a gander. To say it’s “revealing” is an understatement:

“Who wouldn’t want Pavel (Datsyuk), Hank, Kronner (Niklas Kronwall), Nick (Lidstrom), Fil ... I can go on and on,’’ Franzen said. “We got a great team. We just got to realize that.’‘

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Is this a joke? Can’t find the “swagger” with that much money and with so many good players? What, you want a cookie every time you do something good? I know he and Z hate the coach, but man…get over it

Posted by Stephane from toronto on 04/27/12 at 10:35 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

At first it was what Franzen did on the ice (or didn’t do) that annoyed me. Now when he opens his mouth I’m even more annoyed.
Serenity Now!

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/27/12 at 11:06 AM ET


I hesitated posting anything here because really what can you say??? Is the Mule that dumb?? I do know that his TV commercial shooting at the red truck has to go! And the Nick & Corey Parry ad isn’t much better. Corey *#$%@& Perry????? why?

Posted by Acim on 04/27/12 at 11:20 AM ET


Background on Z hating Babcock? Wasn’t aware….

Posted by AD from Vail, CO on 04/27/12 at 11:24 AM ET

dougie's avatar

Something I learned the hard way. SOMEONE WILL lead every organization. If you want input, then YOU have to do it.

Don’t want to? Fine, then don’t carp about the results.

Everybody can’t be a leader.But if you are not, then do all you can to support those that are attempting to lead. Start with a long, tall cup of STFU, Franzen.

Posted by dougie on 04/27/12 at 11:26 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I know Fil was terrible in the series and Bert & Cleary didn’t score but… again, look at the SOG totals from Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Kronwall, and yes Franzen.  It was a failure up and down the lineup to bury it, and I’m certainly including Pavel in that even though he played very well and I’m not sure he could have done much more.

Replacing Franzen is not going to provide a solution, because it doesn’t begin to explain why everyone else disappeared.  To suggest Z didn’t score more despite his SOG totals, or why Fil, Bert, and Cleary didn’t tally at all, because of it somehow being Franzen’s fault… is one of the dumber ongoing Red Wing fan outcries I’ve heard.  There were two full top lines that did not score (well, save Hudler), and Franzen wasn’t slotted on both of them at the same time, people…

Truthfully, I think Fil needs to be looked at again and I think he’s far more likely to be moved.  To say I was disappointed with his playoff effort was an understatement.  Even Franzen outplayed him.  Fil might be sacrificed to give Nyquist a spot, if nothing else.

I see two lines that need fixing though, not one.

Posted by Primis on 04/27/12 at 11:44 AM ET

Heaton's avatar

rofl, how is this anything other than a hate fest on Franzen? 

What did he say that wasn’t true?  If the team is playing like shit and losing they’re not having fun.  If they’re playing well and winning, they’re having fun.

Franzen states the obvious and gets shit on for it?  Congrats Ericsson, you’re no longer the scapegoat for everything!

Posted by Heaton on 04/27/12 at 12:11 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

George has been saying all season that the Wings did not seem to have players who could replace the intangibles Draper and Osgood brought to the locker room. Franzen confirmed this point. This season the Wings did not have a single player step into those roles. This team simply does not have that type of publicly light heart personality, everyone is too serious. Holland and Babcock probably thought a few players did have those intangibles, but the fact they did not or were not able to step up and play that part in place of Draper and Osgood means they were wrong. Maybe next season Helm and Eaves step into that role, but maybe everyone is just do dang serious and someone needs to be brought in from the outside to lighten the mood. George, your were right on about this issue and Mule confirmed it. More proof nobody understand the Wings better than Malik.

Posted by Bradley97 on 04/27/12 at 01:11 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Posted by Heaton on 04/27/12 at 10:11 AM ET

No, see, now Franzen is the offensive scapegoat (with the apparent imminent departure of Hudler, according to everyone) , and Ericsson is the defensive; Conklin was the goaltending scapegoat.

Gotta spread the goats.

Posted by RedMenace from The Luke Witkowski Fan Club on 04/27/12 at 01:13 PM ET


I would argue that Quincey has become the defensive scapegoat, because it should be easy for a guy to adjust to a new role in a new system on a new team, then be given another different role when there are injuries, then go back to the first role he had no time to adjust to initially, and he should be playing Norris Trophy worthy hockey.  While living out of a duffel bag.

Posted by Garth on 04/27/12 at 01:43 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by Garth on 04/27/12 at 11:43 AM ET

I chuckled.  Been thinking this all along.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 04/27/12 at 03:46 PM ET

habman's avatar

I’m with AD from Vail, CO. I wasn’t aware that Zetterberg and Franzen hate Babcock?
When did this happen?

Posted by habman on 04/27/12 at 08:45 PM ET

christpuncher's avatar

I honestly feel much of the first round exit is on Babcock. He was out coached badly. I have read previous comments here the he tends to be too stubborn, and I agree with that. Our 3 and 4 lines were out played and I didn’t see much from Babcock to change that. There were many line combinations and line up changes that could have been implemented, stuff I didn’t see until the dying mins of game 5. Things like getting Conner in the line-up as a Dallas Drake type defense hunter or getting Z, Pav and Homer back together. Babs did very little to get Bert going as well. Wasn’t much he could do with the D pairings as our D showed very little depth, but he could have gone back to Nick and White and took Quincey right out of the line-up. We ultimately lost because Nash’s 3-4 lines WAY out played Det’s, and our goal scoreing forwards were spread way too thin. These are all things Babs could have tinkered with and, instead he kept right on going with the same tired combos and pairs. The Players have to want it more than the opposition, but coach didn’t do much to find a working formula. Best of 7 series’ aren’t the best times to pull the “be patent and wait and see if things turn around” mindset, especially when you trail in the series. We all know Pav, Z and Homer can score goals, especially with Lids and White as the D pair, and we all know Fil, Cleary, Bert, Kroner and Stu can shut down anyone in the league. With those lines and hard working 3rd and 4th’s this might have been a bit better for us.
I didn’t want to turn this comment into me playing coach, but I couldn’t make my point with out doing it I guess! Lol
A few nice pieces this summer and the boys will be right back into form… If the coaching gets it’s act together!
; )

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 04/27/12 at 10:06 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Primit would you please stop your private warfare against Fil? Man you are going at him the whole year, move Fil, move Fil,  move Fil. You make yourself look foolish with such comments. Trading Fil, it’s simply insane trading away that kind of talent.

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 04/28/12 at 07:19 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.