By Ashley Dunkak
JOE LOUIS ARENA (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen will not talk to the media about his postseason struggles, and head coach Mike Babcock does not understand why.
“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,” Babcock said after the team’s morning skate Friday afternoon. “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,” Babcock concluded. “He’s a man. He’s got to deal with that himself.”
Franzen, who signed an 11-year, $43 million deal in 2009, recorded 41 points during the regular season. He scored 16 goals, a number that pales into comparison with his average of 25.6 goals per season between 2007 and 2012.
In four games against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the first round of the postseason, Franzen has just one point despite recording considerable ice time.
As far as whether the media scrutiny gets to Franzen, Babcock said he had no idea. He would tell the media to ask Franzen themselves, he said, but since they tried and he refused to talk, Babcock could only shrug.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” Babcock said. “I think when you coach 23 people, you figure out 23 different ways, and that’s always in flux anyway and always changing. You try to find a way to keep people accountable and not make mountains out of molehills. On the other side is you try to make people accountable and make them better.
“We need more of the Mule,” Babcock added. “It’s simple.”