Franzen cleared by doctor to return; expected to be ready for start of season

DETROIT >> Johan Franzen got the news he had been hoping for all summer … he’s been cleared to play.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed the news Saturday afternoon.

“He’ll start camp and is expected to be ready for the start of the season,” Holland said.

Franzen was cleared by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, director of the Michigan Neurosport Program.

Franzen, who has been taking part in informal skates with teammates at Joe Louis Arena these past few weeks, has suffered multi concussions in his career, the last of which occurred last season after a blind-side hit by Edmonton’s Rob Klinkhammer. He finished the game, but began experiencing concussion-like symptoms the next day.

“He went home for the summer and trained hard,” Holland said. “He pushed himself hard. He saw the doctor on Thursday and was cleared.”

He said earlier this month that he had yet to consider his career possibly being over because of last season’s setback.

“I haven’t been there yet, really, in my thoughts,” Franzen said when asked about the possibility of retiring. “It’s been so many tough years here the last 2-3 years with injuries. I just want to have a good year. I want to decide on my own when I quit. I’m excited to try to get back and to have a good year.

“It’s great, especially being where I was there in mid-season,” Franzen continued. “Not being able to get out of bed. It makes you think, it really makes you appreciate being able to do what we do.”

Franzen has been limited to just 128 regular season games over the last three seasons.

“He’s a big body that can score goals,” Holland said. “Our hope is it will enable us to roll four lines and get offense up and down the lineup.”

Franzen played in 33 games last season, picking up seven goals and 15 assists.

“His history is when he’s healthy he can score in the mid-20s,” Holland said. “He’s going to be rusty. It’s an important training camp for him. He hasn’t played since January. By the time we get going it’s going to be eight months between games. He has to get his timing and his comfort level.”

Franzen, 35, has 187 goals and 182 assists in 600 regular season games with the Wings. He has 42 goals and 39 assists in 107 playoff games.

He’s as streaky of a goal scorer as they come.

After a five-goal game against Ottawa during the 2010-11 season, Franzen went on a 14-game goalless drought and ended the regular season with just two goals over his last 27 games.

“He’s another big body that’s got skill and gives us more depth up front,” Holland said.

After this season Franzen still has four years left on a contract that pays him just under $4 million a season.


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