DETROIT (WXYZ) - Five of Johan Franzen’s countrymen are still skating for Sweden in the Olympics, two wins away from claiming a gold medal.
Franzen was supposed to be in Sochi, but instead he was practicing today at Joe Louis Arena, uncertain about his immediate future with the Red Wings.
In the locker room following today's workout, Franzen was asked where he spent part of his Olympic break.
His answer: Turks and Caicos.
“An island… in the ocean,” said Franzen.
In a way, the tropical vacation spot is symbolic of his injury status. Since suffering a concussion, Franzen has fought through the symptoms alone, on an island.
He was first injured in a loss to Tampa Bay on December 15 and didn’t return to action until January 26 when the Red Wings lost to Florida.
The day after his return, Franzen was placed back on the injured list, suffering yet again from concussion-like symptoms.
“I woke up with bad migraines and stuff like that so we had to take a step back again,” said Franzen.
In the wake of his setback, Franzen was replaced on Team Sweden by Red Wings teammate Gustav Nyquist.
One dream dashed, Franzen’s focus shifted to recovering, fully. He’s been symptom-free for many weeks.
“Pretty much,” said Franzen. “But it’s been that way the whole time. I’ve been able to work out fine. It’s when I’m getting into a lot of movement, with a lot of stuff going on around me, like what’s going on on the ice - that’s when it’s hard for me to tell.
“Even if I felt good the last few weeks without doing anything, it doesn’t really mean anything.”
The uncertainty surrounding Franzen’s ability to play - and he hopes to be on the ice when the Red Wings return to action next week - is more troubling in the wake of Henrik Zetterberg’s injury.
Zetterberg aggravated a herniated disk in his back and was ruled out of the Olympics after Sweden’s first game in Sochi. Zetterberg claimed the pain was “twenty times worse” than what he felt earlier this season when he missed an extended stretch of games for Detroit.
It’s unknown if Zetterberg will be able to play again this season.
Even with a healthy Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the ice, Franzen is expected to deliver offensively. This season, he’s been limited to nine goals and 14 assists.
Without Zetterberg in the lineup, the expectations for Franzen will grow, yet he’s uncertain if game action will have an adverse affect on his brain injury.
“It’s going to be in the back of my head that it might come back because it did that last time,” said Franzen. “You just have to go out and try and see what happens.”
The Red Wings open the post-Olympic segment of their schedule with a trip to Montreal on February 26.