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Ex-Red Wing Johan Franzen calls Mike Babcock 'the worst (person) I have ever met'

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Hockey

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has told Swedish media Mike Babcock, is "the worst person I have ever met."

In an interview with Expressen, Franzen described Babcock as a great coach, "but he's a terrible person, the worst I ever met. He's a bully who was attacking people. It could be a cleaner at the arena in Detroit or anybody. He would lay into people without any reason."

Asked if a player ever came to him and accused Babcock of abusive behavior, former Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press, "no. The answer is no."

Franzen also confirmed a story Chris Chelios revealed during Monday's episode of the podcast, "Spittin' Chiclets." The incident happened during Game 5 of the Wings' 2012 playoff series against Nashville.

"Some of the things he (Babcock) said to him (Franzen) 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," Chelios said. "It got to the point where poor Johan, no one really knowing he was suffering with the concussion thing and the depression thing, he just broke down and had nervous breakdown, not only on the bench but after the game in one of the rooms in Nashville.

"It was probably one of the worst things I've ever seen."

 

The incident still haunts Franzen, who was forced to retire in 2015 after repeated head injuries caused him to suffer from post-concussion syndrome. He and his family returned to their native Sweden this past summer.

"I get the shivers when I think about it," Franzen told Expressen. "That incident occurred against Nashville in the playoffs. It was coarse, nasty and shocking. But that was just one out of a hundred things he did. The tip of the iceberg.

"He would lay into a couple of the other players. The nice team players, the guys who don't say very much. When they left the team he went on to focus on me. It was verbal attacks, he said horrible things."

Babcock coached the Wings from 2005-2015. He left the Wings to coach the Maple Leafs, and was fired after 41/2 seasons last month.

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