Injured Franzen emerging from 'dark place'

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Brandon, Fla. — Johan Franzen is slowly working his way back to being a hockey player.

It's a lot more enjoyable than what he went through earlier.

"The first two months I didn't get out of bed that much," said Franzen, who hasn't played since Jan. 6 after suffering a concussion. "I'd get up and try to do whatever and get a migraine and sit back down.

"I was in a dark place. When it doesn't get better, you start wondering (whether it'll ever get better)."

It has, to the point where Franzen can at least work out, though he's far from participating in any competitive drills, and playing isn't on the horizon.

"The last month it's been progressing, slow and steady and it's been better," he said. "I still have a lot of issues. But at least I can do workouts and get something done during the day."

And even more important, Franzen's health has improved to the point he can play with his children, something he wasn't able to do a couple of months ago.

"They're too young to understand, but it's tough to see the disappointment in their eyes," Franzen said. "They'll say, 'Daddy, why can't you play with us?' and it breaks your heart. But it's better now, I can do all this stuff, and it feels real good."

Franzen, however, still suffers headaches nearly every day.

Still, getting back on the ice and resuming his career continues to be on his mind.

He isn't ruling out a return this season, but admits it would be a long shot.

"I'm skating," Franzen said. "It would have to be deep into the playoffs, then there would be a chance. But things would have to turn around (for the better) within a few weeks or something like that to be able to get into shape.

"It would be a long shot, a best-case scenario. Maybe there's a chance. ... I don't want to give it up."

Franzen, 35, isn't giving up on his career, either. If he doesn't return this year, he hopes to be ready for training camp in September.

"I have my mind set on coming back," Franzen said. "I'm just hoping to one day wake up and it's going to be better.

"It's tough when you're used to doing something every day and then shut it down for two months and you don't feel good."