Johan Franzen hasn't played since Jan. 26. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — The Red Wings who aren't competing in the Winter Olympics returned to the ice Wednesday, and probably no one was more eager to get started again than Johan Franzen.
Limited to one game since getting concussed Dec. 15, Franzen is aiming toward returning Feb. 26 in Montreal when the NHL regular season resumes.
"Definitely," said Franzen, who has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 31 games. "If everything goes smoothly, I'm planning to be in it."
But there is some cautiousness involved going forward.
Franzen returned to play Jan. 26 against Florida. But then he awoke with severe migraines two days later, couldn't play in Philadelphia, and hasn't played since.
"(I) woke up with bad migraines," Franzen said. "I had to take a step back again."
Until Franzen can put several good days of practices and games together, and be symptom-free, there will be a hesitancy to say he's totally cleared.
"Until I get through a few games and feel good, it's always going to be in the back of my head it might come back," Franzen said. "It did last time. But I just have to go out and try and see what happens.
"I need to get a few good practices in and see where I'm at."
The rapid movement on the ice and the constant fast motion of bodies on the ice triggered issues for Franzen in December, keeping him off the ice. It’s something he'll monitor in the days ahead.
Stephen Weiss, another Red Wings player on the mend, expects to be in the lineup next week in Montreal.
After working out with the Plymouth Whalers last week, Weiss appears on course to return.
Weiss last played Dec. 10, then underwent sports hernia surgery a couple weeks later.
"That's the plan, to be ready and available in the first couple of games back," Weiss said.
Weiss is expected to play one or two conditioning games this weekend in Grand Rapids. He had no setbacks while skating with his former junior team, the Whalers.
"Nothing crazy," Weiss said. "Some soreness, but all that is natural with the scar tissue breaking up. It's all been going according to plan, which is great."
What held Weiss back a bit this Olympic break is a bad head-and-chest cold, which sapped him of much of his energy.
"I haven't been sick in so long, it was something I wasn't used to and it took a lot out of me," Weiss said. "The energy was a little low."
Back to work
With Mike Babcock coaching Canada at the Olympics, associate coach Tom Renney and assistants Bill Peters, Keith McKittrick and Jim Bedard will handle the Red Wings until Babcock returns.
Wednesday's practice was about getting acclimated.
"We wanted to get their feet under them," Renney said. "Nothing competitive or combative, but there's a reason for that. We'll crank it up a little more tomorrow.
"We just wanted them to be free and skate and get the feel of the puck back on the stick."
What the Red Wings have to balance in the days ahead is getting this group back to NHL conditioning, while taking into consideration the group in Sochi, Russia, has been playing intense hockey for two weeks.
"We have to make sure this group of people is ready to absorb those guys and help lead the way," Renney said.
Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc) is expected to travel home from Russia on Thursday. Zetterberg, captain of Team Sweden, played one Olympic game, then was forced to withdraw after his injury acted up.
Zetterberg isn't expected to be ready once the season resumes.
…Jakub Kindl (lower body), who missed the last two games before the Olympic break, skated Wednesday and appears on track to return after the break.
…There will be plenty of discussion leading up to Friday's Olympic semifinals, but with the United States playing Canada, and Sweden facing Finland, it's tough to focus on a favorite.
"It's going to be four good teams in the semifinals, any one of those teams can win it," said Franzen, who was supposed play for Sweden.