NHL teams are usually coy, if not downright specious, regarding injuries to their players. That's what makes the news out of Detroit tonight a little more startling. From Bill Roose at the official Red Wings website, emphasis added:
Franzen is still experiencing migraines since he absorbed a blind-side hit to the head by Edmonton’s Rob Klinkhammer on Jan. 6. The Wings' power forward is being treated by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an Ann Arbor-based neurologist and consultant for the NHL Players’ Association.
It is estimated that Franzen has had at least 10 concussions throughout his hockey-playing career. Last season, a concussion forced him to miss 22 regular-season games, as well as withdraw from representing Sweden in the Sochi Olympics.
Franzen, who has missed the past 22 games with this latest head injury, remains on injured reserve and is not close to returning to the Wings' lineup, though he continues to work toward a comeback.
What makes this news even more peculiar is that it came from the team-employed beat writer. One would normally expect this type of thing to break in an anonymously sourced report, not as a snippet at the bottom of a game day notes article.
At this point, it goes without saying that Franzen's well being and his life after hockey have to be the chief concerns here. Ten concussions is obviously a terrifying number. But make no mistake, this issue is also clouded by his contract. Franzen, for better or worse, obviously still wants to continue with his career. That said, if he isn't cleared to return, his contract and cap hit will end up on LTIR for the duration of its remainder. This result would certainly be beneficial to the team, and, depending on what you think of the prospect of an eleventh concussion, the player, as well. This situation has moral, medical, and ethical layers to it that make it incredibly complicated, and it's a good bet we'll hear a lot more about it if Franzen is shut down for the year.