Mule's stall falls prey to practical joke in Detroit

by Brian Hedger /
DETROIT -- After he came off the ice following a morning skate at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen found his locker stall barricaded by a wall of red and white tape.

Rather than try to cut through it, Franzen hung most of his pads on a hook outside the stall and stuffed his shin pads into the upper portion of the locker through gaps in the tape.

Franzen [a.k.a 'The Mule'] didn't seem entirely amused, either.

Though Franzen didn't reveal by name who he thought was the primary suspect, he did boil it down.

"I think one of the young kids is growing up a little too fast here," Franzen said, smiling. "One of the fastest guys, youngest guy."

The fastest skater on the team is third-line center Darren Helm, who's 25 and was seen walking around the Wings locker room wearing a smile like the cat that swallowed the canary. It should be noted that Helm used to locker next to legendary Wings prankster Kris Draper -- who retired after last season and now has a front office position in Detroit.

Helm admitted seeing the tape job happen, but denied any involvement.

"I plead the Fifth," he said.

Second line center Henrik Zetterberg was also asked if he'd had a hand in the tape job.

"Yeah, actually I saw it," Zetterberg said. "So, it wasn't me. I have nothing to do with this one."

What kind of message did "The Mule" think was being sent with the joke?

"I don't know," Franzen said. "He's been all over me all morning. Stole some of my equipment and now he did this. I don't know how to take that. Maybe I have to do something with his car. I probably will … make it disappear or something."

Did Franzen do anything to start it?

"Nope," he said, laughing. "Not at all."

As for the tape job idea, Franzen acknowledged it was at least creative.

"It's interesting," he said. "I'm not going to touch it, so the guy who did this gets a little bad feelings because he gave the equipment managers [another] job. That's the only way to get it to stop. I'm going to leave this and go shower."

Asked if even Draper could've done something like that, Franzen dismissed the notion.

"He would never spend as much time on anything like this," Franzen said. "It'd be quick. Something with scissors."