Detroit Red Wings left winger Johan Franzen came into the 2015-16 with high hopes — not for his goal total, point total or defensive play, but that he would be able to get through the season without suffering through any headaches or symptoms stemming from his concussion history.
But Franzen and the Red Wings got the worst possible news Thursday. After being sidelined for more than a month with symptoms that appeared related to his history of concussions, Detroit officially placed Franzen on the long-term injured reserve, which calls into question whether he’ll ever hit the ice again.
Coming into the season, Franzen, 35, was recovering from a concussion that saw him sidelined for 49 games in the 2014-15 campaign. The concussion came on a collision in the neutral zone in a game against the Edmonton Oilers in January 2015. Franzen struggled to get cleared for contact before the campaign began, but was finally given the go-ahead to participate in full team activity in training camp.
Franzen did admit, however, that he could be playing his final year in the NHL.
“If I would get a really bad hit again and I would feel the same way again, that’s probably it,” Franzen told ABC Detroit’s Brad Galli. “I’m not going to go through it again. I’m not going to put my family through that again…Right now, I’m not thinking about that. I’m just trying to do my best out there and have as much fun as I can.”
Franzen has five years remaining on an 11-year, $43.5-million deal he signed in April 2009, but that he’s headed to the long-term injured list doesn’t bode well for his future. Players such as Marc Savard and Chris Pronger have dealt with similar concussion issues that led to their careers ending but their contracts remaining on long-term injured lists. Savard’s rights are currently owned by the Florida Panthers, and Pronger is technically a member of the Arizona Coyotes.
In two games this season, Franzen played less than 26 combined minutes and notched one assist. He may have very well played his final game in the NHL.