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Red Wings' Franzen pushes to return from injury

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- Johan Franzen is feeling good and pushing himself.

The Detroit Red Wings right wing was limited to 33 games last season because of post-concussion syndrome and other injuries; he last played on Jan. 6. But the 35-year-old has been on the ice working out with teammates during informal skates at Joe Louis Arena for the past few weeks, and he's been trying to ramp up his effort and intensity.

"Going pretty hard, probably too much for me, just to see if I can get through it," Franzen said after the informal skate Wednesday. " … My threshold is getting higher and higher every week. [I'm] just pushing my body a little more, letting it rest and see where we are after that."

Franzen said he expects to pass his physical and be cleared for training camp, which begins Sept. 17 in Traverse City, Mich.

"The next step is the battle [during games and scrimmages]," said Franzen, whose goal is to be in the lineup for Detroit's season-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home on Oct. 9.

"Just go as hard as I can the last couple of weeks before camp and see what happens," he said.

Franzen has sustained several injuries throughout his 10 NHL seasons but said he has yet to consider the possibility they might force him to retire.

"It's been a lot of tough years, the past two or three, with injuries. I just want to have a good season," Franzen said. "I want to make that decision [about retirement] myself."

Franzen had seven goals last season, 16 in 54 games in 2013-14 and 14 in 41 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He last played a full season in 2011-12, when he scored 29 goals in 77 games and has 187 goals and 369 points in 600 regular-season games. Franzen scored 13 goals in 16 games during the Red Wings' run to the Stanley Cup in 2008 and has 42 goals and 81 points in 107 playoff games.

A healthy Franzen would be a big help to the Red Wings as they try to extend their streak of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs to 25 seasons.

""He's got to get bumped a little bit, be in some contact and kind of see how it goes from there," forward Justin Abdelkader said. "It's still a wait-and-see approach, but if he does play for us, he's a perennial 20-25 goal scorer, at least."

Franzen has five seasons left on an 11-year contract that has an average annual value of $3.95 million, according to war-on-ice.com.

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