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Notes: Franzen's return not close

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk throws a punch at Johan Franzen at Joe Louis Arena during the 2010-11 season. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT Johan Franzen has missed six weeks with a concussion and a return to the lineup doesn’t look to be imminent, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Monday.

Franzen, who hasn’t played since absorbing a blind-side hit to the head by Edmonton’s Rob Klinkhammer on Jan. 6, is being treated by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an Ann Arbor-based neurologist and consultant for the NHL Players’ Association.

Franzen finished the game against the Oilers, but began seeing Kutcher soon after the Wings returned from the west coast road trip. Kutcher has treated other Red Wings in the past, including Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves.

“I haven’t seen him, he hasn’t been around here much,” Holland said of Franzen. “I believe he’s getting a little bit better. I know he’s working with Dr. Kutcher. I get a report occasionally from (Wings trainer) Piet Van Zant when Piet talks to Dr. Kutcher. But he’s not here. He’s not on the bike. I don’t know how far he is away.”

The 35-year-old Franzen is no stranger to post-concussion symptoms, including migraine headaches. He has suffered a handful of concussions throughout his 10-season career.

Franzen will not be cleared to workout until he is symptom free for a period of time.

“Yeah, I think when he feels good,” Holland said. “The way it works, I think, is they start to feel better for awhile and then they ride a bike. They come the next day and they feel OK, so they ride a bike a little harder. Then after three, four, five days of riding a bike they keep ramping up and ramping up and ramping up and ramping up. But until he has a number of days in a row where he feels good you never push it to the next level.”

Last season, a concussion forced Franzen to sit 22 regular-season games and he had to withdraw from representing Sweden in the Sochi Olympics.

Franzen’s medical situation has left Holland with few answers.

“I’m not a doctor; I’m a hockey guy. My job is hockey. I’m not a neurosurgeon. So at the end of the day all I know is until he feels better every day for a period of days they never go to the next level, whatever the next level is,” Holland said. “All I know is he needs to be here every day riding the bike and if he’s not here every day, he’s not on the radar screen to return to play hockey anytime soon.”

Franzen has produced seven goals and 22 points with a minus-12 rating in 22 games this season. He has missed the past 14 games.

Petr Mrazek
Goalie  - DET
Record: 13-5-1
GAA: 2.55 | Sv%: .909
GOALIE QUANDARY: The Wings are entering the second week with three healthy goaltenders on the roster. However, Holland doesn’t want to send Petr Mrazek to AHL Grand Rapids until there are some assurances that Jimmy Howard’s groin is 100 percent.

“We’ve got a six-game road trip starting on Wednesday,” Holland said. “Obviously, Wednesday we go to Chicago and then we come back. Before we head out to Dallas, this week we’re going to make a decision. What we want to do is make sure Howie, the groin is good. He’s going back in tonight (vs. Montreal). So we’ll get through tonight’s game and in the next two, three days we’ll make a decision of some sort.”

Howard wasn’t happy about surrendering four goals Saturday – a 5-4 shootout loss to Winnipeg – in his first start since the Jan. 10 injury.

“It’s just about finding my rhythm right now, just trying to get out there and to get back to where I was playing before the injury happened,” Howard said. “It’s a work in progress, but you know, I have to find a way.”

Howard has compiled a 16-7-8 record with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.

Backup Jonas Gustavsson was cleared to return 11 days ago, though he will be a healthy scratch when the Wings host Montreal tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Mrazek was solid while both veterans were on the mend. Though he went 8-2-0 in 11 starts, the rookie was pulled out of three games, while allowing at least four goals in four starts.

Still, carrying three goalies isn’t a good environment, Holland said.

“We don’t want to take three goalies out west,” Holland continued. “Two nets, so again, we sort of delayed our decision because we wanted to make sure Howie’s groin was good. He got through Saturday, he’s back in tonight, so I think once we get through tonight, I don’t know if it’s tomorrow or Chicago (Wednesday), but certainly before we jump on the plane to go to Dallas on Friday we’re going to make a decision.”

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