BY ERICK LEHMAN, Managing Editor
On Jan. 6, 2015, Johan Franzen was blindsided by Rob Klinkhammer of the Edmonton Oilers, suffering a major concussion. It wasn’t his first, and probably won’t be his last.
It’s not as if I’m wishing a concussion upon Franzen, but he will continue to play for the Detroit Red Wings this upcoming season, nine months after taking the hit that lingered for a long time.
Franzen spoke briefly back in April, stating the toughest challenge was being unable to play with his kids.
“For two months you can’t pick up your kids or play with your kids for more than two minutes,” Franzen told Ansar Khan of MLive.com in April. “It makes you think a little bit.”
In the spring, Franzen began lightly skating, but admitted he would have setbacks in the afternoon and at night. Often headaches would ensue midway through a workout, and nausea would set in. According to Khan, Franzen basically did not leave bed for the first two months after the injury.
“I got up and tried to do whatever and got a migraine and had to shut right down,” Franzen told MLive.
Franzen saw multiple specialists and tried multiple procedures to try and work through everything to get cleared to play.
Fast forward to present day.
Franzen has been cleared to play, and made his triumphant return to the ice on Thursday in a preseason game against Pittsburgh.
While Franzen returning to the ice is a great thing to see, his concussion history is alarming. The fact that the guy could not make it through complete workouts this summer without having to quit midway through and go lay down makes me wonder how he was cleared to play hockey. Franzen admitted to MLive on Thursday before the game that he still has headaches, and that he has just learned to live with it.
Franzen has two kids, and a family. He is 35 years old. One more hit could seriously put living a healthy life in jeopardy. Franzen said in a recent interview with Brad Galli from WXYZ (channel 7) that one more hit and he is likely done.
But why risk it? Why not just retire now? Franzen should not take a risk and continue his playing career. When you have kids and you’re a professional hockey player, wouldn’t you want to be able to skate with your kids and teach them how to play the game the way you did?
There is too much at risk for Franzen, who has had a series of concussion problems, to continue playing the game. I am not saying step away from the game completely and leave it all behind, because that is tough for any professional athlete, whether they retired for health reasons or not.
Franzen, do yourself a favor and walk away while you’re still healthy and can make the decision yourself.