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Johan Franzen to Swedish media: Mike Babcock is ‘the worst person I’ve ever met’

DETROIT - JANUARY 26: Head coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings talks to Johan Franzen #39 on the bench during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Joe Louis Arena on January 26, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings won the game 2-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (2006 Getty Images)

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has responded to Chris Chelios’ remarks about their former coach’s treatment of him during a 2012 playoff game.

During an interview with the Spittin Chiclets podcast this week, Chelios said Babcock “blatantly verbally assaulted" Franzen during a playoff game, helping Franzen suffer a “nervous breakdown.”

“Johan Franzen, what (Babcock) did to him at the end, you know, he was hurt at the time and I think it was playoffs, we lost to Nashville, we got upset ... and some of the things (Babcock) said to him on the bench, I don’t know what he said to him behind closed doors one-on-one, but he blatantly verbally assaulted him during the game on the bench, and it got to the point that poor Johan, with no one really knowing that he was suffering with the concussion thing and the depression thing, he just broke down, had a nervous breakdown, not only on the bench but after the game in one of the rooms in Nashville," Chelios said. “That was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”

Franzen, who was forced to end his hockey career prematurely due to concussions, told Swedish newspaper Expressen that he "remembers the event well.”

“As a coach he is extremely accurate and prepared. He is great at putting together a gaming system and getting everyone to buy into it. That’s his strong side,” Franzen told Expressen. “But then he’s a terrible man, the worst person I’ve ever met. A bully who cheated on people, it could be cleaners in the Detroit arena or anyone. He jumped on people just because.”

Yikes. And Franzen went even further, explaining how he dreaded playing for Babcock, who he described as two-faced.

“He was a specialist in managing the media,” Franzen told Expressen. “He creates teams that are very difficult to beat, you can’t take that away from him. But he makes his players very anxious, they are terrified of making mistakes and his team rarely makes it past the first playoff round.”

True -- Babcock hasn’t coached a team past the first round of the playoffs since 2013.

So who’s next? What other anti-Babcock stories are out there? And, did Brendan Shanahan know about all of this when he hired Babcock to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Read more: Ex-Red Wings D Colaiacovo on Babcock: Guys hated him in Detroit, tried to get him fired every year

There are so many questions now, like when Franzen signed that 11-year contract with the Red Wings in 2009, did he expect Babcock to be gone sooner than when he eventually left Detroit in 2015? And what about the other team leaders in Detroit? Chelios said everyone went about his business and just “survived" the Babcock years. Hard to believe.


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