A lot of unfavorable words are being used to describe the Red Wings Johan Franzen these days. Words like “Lazy”, “Floater”, and “Uninspired”. His alleged floating has become such a scapegoat for Wings fans that I half expect a referee to give him a major penalty for loitering on the ice.
What many fans seem to neglect is the fact that Franzen’s nickname is the Mule. A nickname that was bestowed upon him by the great Steve Yzerman in recognition of his workmanlike ethic on the ice. Yet, with the way most fans describe Franzen’s work ethic on the ice you’d think his nickname was Alexander Radulov.
So which is right and which is wrong? The opinion of reactionary fans or the expert opinion of Stephen Yzerman?
Personally, I’ll take the later.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Franzen’s reputation is his transformation from a highly touted “playoff machine” to an “underachiever” in the eyes of fans. A transformation that seems to have occurred within the last year.
Franzen has an impressive 73 points in 88 total playoffs games, but just 4 points his last 13 playoffs games over the last two playoff runs. No doubt this has prompted some of the backlash from fans. However, Franzen’s lack of recent playoff success is not because he is lazy, but because he is quite simply just a streaky player.
Franzen’s streakiness becomes apparent when looking at his high points as well as his low points. Anyone who knows the Red Wings knows that when Franzen is hot, he’s practically on fire. He has the unique ability to absolutely erupt when he’s on his game. Franzen is one of just two players to score five goals in one game in the last fourteen years, the other being Marian Gaborik. The only other Red Wings to ever accomplish this feat were Sergei Fedorov and Syd Howe.
As a testament to his sometimes explosive playoff performances, Franzen also holds the Red Wings record for most points in a single playoff game with six.
Simply put, the hard-working Mule is not the type of player that takes nights off as many like to think. His recent lackluster playoff performances can mostly be attributed to being on the cold end of a streak and a declining Red Wings team.
So far this year he has 9 points in 15 games, and is on pace for another 50 point season. Not bad for a player with only a $3.9 million cap-hit.
Frustrated Red Wings fans simply need to accept Franzen as the streaky player that he is and abandon their wish of trading him. With his huge contract that takes him until he’s 40 years old, he’s not likely to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Have a differing opinion on streaky Franzen? If you’ve got the guts, voice it below.