Johan Franzen On Mike Babcock: Worst Person I Ever Met

"I was terrified of being at the rink," Franzen said.

97.1 The Ticket
December 02, 2019 - 7:14 pm
Johan Franzen

Jeff Gross / Staff


Now that the truth is coming out about Mike Babcock, no one's holding back. 

That includes former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen, who suffered a nervous breakdown after Babcock 'verbally assaulted' him during a game in the 2012 playoffs, according to Chris Chelios. Franzen spoke about the incident in an interview Monday with Swedish newspaper Expressen -- and called Babcock the worst person he's ever met. 

"I get the shivers when I think about it. ... It was coarse, nasty and shocking," Franzen said. "But that was just one out of a hundred things he did. The tip of the iceberg." 

As a coach, Franzen  described Babcock as "extremely meticulous and well prepared. He is very good at putting a team together and getting everyone to buy into it. That’s his strong side."

"But then, he’s a terrible person, the worst I have ever met," Franzen went on. "He’s a bully who was attacking people. It could be a cleaner at the arena in Detroit or anybody. He would lay into people without any reason." 

Asked when it started, Franzen said, "He would lay into a couple of the other players. The nice team players, the guys who don’t say very much. When they left the team he went on to focus on me. It was verbal attacks, he said horrible things." 

Franzen retired in 2015 after a long battle with concussions. He still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, and he said he has nightmares about Babcock to this day. 

"From 2011 on, I was terrified of being at the rink. That’s when he got on me the first time," said Franzen. "I just focused on getting out of bed every morning from that moment. Last year I could sleep naturally for the first time since then. It was just his attacks, playing in my head. Each and every day." 

Franzen said he attended a treatment center for three weeks last year in Colorado to help him manage the PTSD. 

(RELATED: Mike Commodore Lays Into Mike Babcock: "I Would Kick The (Bleep) Out Of That Guy")

The Red Wings made the playoffs every season during Babcock's 10-year tenure, including consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, but dissent among the players was strong. It got to the point that the veterans constantly tried to get him fired, according to former Red Wing Carlo Colaiacovo. 

But then-general manager Ken Holland never entertained the idea. 

"He was a specialist at handling the media," Franzen said. "He creates teams that are very hard to beat, you can’t take that away from him. But he makes his players very anxious, they are scared to death of making mistakes, and his teams rarely get past the first round of the playoffs." 

The Maple Leafs, who lost in the first round each of the last three years, fired Babcock last month.