DETROIT – Injuries have been a common occurrence for the Red Wings each of the last two seasons which led general manager Ken Holland to sum it up with two words, ‘an epidemic.’
“Five, six, seven, eight years ago we lost a lot of people with groins,” Holland said during a phone interview Monday. “Some had sports hernia surgery; to me it’s all the same. Then, we went for a run of years where we had injuries, but not an epidemic. Last year and this year we seem to have an epidemic of injuries. It just goes in cycles.”
Currently seven players – Darren Helm (groin/shoulder), Stephen Weiss (hernia), Danny DeKeyser (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body injury), Jonathan Ericsson (ribs), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) – are on the shelf.
But there seems to be good news on the horizon for a few players.
Franzen has been cleared to fly and join the team in Phoenix.
“He’s cleared to practice,” Holland said. “There is no timetable as to when he’ll return. It’s on the horizon. It’s all about conditioning now, but he’s been cleared to practice.
“We’re not far away, but what not far away means with these injuries I don’t know,” Holland continued. “If you follow these injuries and are hoping to get a black and white answer there never is one.”
Holland hasn’t ruled Franzen out of possibly returning this weekend at Los Angeles (Saturday) or Anaheim (Sunday).
“Now I’m assuming, if he goes three or four days in a row, practices full out and feels great and we call the doctor Saturday and tell him he’s practiced four days in a row and has had no setbacks, no issues, he feels great and wants to play I’m assuming the doctor’s going to clear him,” Holland said. “That’s an assumption.
“If you’re looking for black and white I can give you black and white beyond that it’s gray,” Holland continued. “When it comes to groin issues and concussions, we don’t have black and white we have assumptions.”
DeKeyser is expected to be back at practice after sitting out Saturday with a tender groin.
“He’s going to practice Tuesday, he’s going to practice Wednesday and after Thursday morning’s skate we’re going to get an assessment on whether he can go Thursday night or not,” Holland said.
Datsyuk continues to be day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
“We thought he was ready to play Saturday, but he felt after the morning skate he didn’t feel quite right and didn’t want to put himself at risk for further injury,” Holland said. “I’m assuming he’s possible to return Thursday since we thought we were going to have him Saturday, so now it’s four days later, that doesn’t mean he’s going to play. We have to get on the ice and see how he feels.”
Gustavsson is out Thursday and they’ll reassess him Friday to see if he’s ready to go Saturday.
“Depending on how practice goes Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we’ll make an assessment,” Holland said. “If he’s not ready to play Saturday we’re going to hold him out until the (New York) Rangers game (Jan. 16).
Holland also had no update on Helm.
Ericsson hopes to start skating a little this week. They’re shooting for his return sometime during their five-game homestand that begins Jan. 18.
“He keeps saying he feels good, he’s getting better,” Holland said.