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Weiss heads to IR; Franzen to return Sunday

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Stephen Weiss will not travel with the Red Wings on their upcoming road trip. The veteran center was injured Tuesday while on a conditioning assignment with the AHL Griffins. (Photo by Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins)

DETROITStephen Weiss, who was just waiting his turn to break into the Red Wings lineup again, suffered another groin injury while on a conditioning assignment in Grand Rapids Tuesday night.

It’s a significant blow to the Red Wings, who were expecting to have Weiss and Johan Franzen back for the upcoming three-game trip that begins Sunday in Buffalo.

On Tuesday, the Red Wings sent Weiss to Grand Rapids for what was supposed to be a two-game conditioning stint with the Griffins. He played that night at Van Andel Arena, skating in the first 40 minutes of the game against the Rockford Ice Hogs. But he stayed in the locker room after the second intermission as precautionary reasons.

“We need to see over the next 3-4 days does he get better or get worse or stay the same,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Friday morning. “We don’t think it’s anything more than some type of groin pull but we need to see how he feels (next week).”

Originally, the plan was for Weiss to play in all three games of the Red Wings’ upcoming road trip against Buffalo, Ottawa and the New York Rangers. Instead, Weiss has been placed on seven-day injured reserve.

“We’re going to try to get him healthy and we’ll start the process all over again,” Holland said. “You’re dealing with groin injuries, who knows on groins. I’ve seen three day groin injuries and I’ve seen month groin injuries. Nobody knows. That’s why you need time to elapse and see how he feels.”

Weiss has played just 27 games since he signed a lucrative five-year free-agent contract with the Red Wings in July 2013. The first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers in 2001, Weiss was sidelined for most of last season with a sports hernia. He underwent surgery last December in Philadelphia, but four months later had follow-up surgery to remove painful scar tissue.

Now the Red Wings need to find out if Weiss’s latest setback is related to the original injury, or altogether something separate.

“We have to look at why,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Did we skate him enough? Did he train enough? Did he strengthen enough? Why did it happen? And if you get another groin pull after surgery now you look at if your body is misaligned. You have to get a look at that because that’s when you put too much pressure on your groin.

“We have to solve the problem. We were excited about Weiss playing twice (in Grand Rapids) and three games on the road trip and trying to get him going. The biggest thing you can’t be is mental mush. It’s a battle, get back at it.”

The 31-year-old Weiss has played once this season. He was in the lineup Oct. 18 replacing Franzen, who suffered a groin injury the night before in Toronto. Weiss logged eight minutes in the Red Wings’ 1-0 overtime win against the Maple Leafs on Oct. 19.

Franzen said Friday that he will play Sunday in Buffalo.

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