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Former Red Wing Johan Franzen: Mike Babcock is “the worst person I’ve ever met”

Oct 10, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen (93) smiles before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Carolina Hurricanes4-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A stunning news report surfaced earlier in which former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios detailed an incident between former coach Mike Babcock and forward Johan Franzen, in which the former verbally abused the latter which led to a nervous breakdown.

And now, Franzen himself is speaking out about it.

Franzen sat down with Swedish-language media outlet SportExpressen to give his side of the story – and he explains that everything Chelios described is true, and more.

On the tirade Chelios describes:
“I get shivers when I think about it. That was against Nashville in the playoffs. It was rough, nasty and shocking. But that was just one of a hundred things he did. The tip of an iceberg,” he says.

How would you describe Babcock as a coach and person?
“As a coach he is extremely accurate and prepared. He is great at putting together a gaming system and getting everyone to buy into it. That’s his strong side.

But then he’s a terrible person, the worst person I’ve ever met. A bully who cheated on people, it could be cleaners in the Detroit arena or anyone. He jumped on people just because.”

Do you remember when it started?
“He was on a couple of other players before. The kind team players. Those who don’t say that much. When they disappeared the energy passed to me and then they had to take a decent turn. It was verbal attacks, terrible things he said.

From 2011, I was terrified of being in the ice cream parlor. I just focused on getting up in the mornings. It was then that he joined me for the first time and last year was the first time I naturally slept for the first time since then, he says.

The nightmares return. More than often.

It was only his hopes that played out in his head. Every day. But I got good help with those obsessions for three weeks at a center in Colorado last year. It was me and a group of veterans from the military who also suffered from concussions and PTSD (post-traumatic stress).”

Johan Franzén describes a hockey coach with two faces:
“He was a specialist in managing the media. He creates teams that are very difficult to beat, you can’t take that away from him. But he makes his players very anxious, they are terrified of making mistakes and his team rarely makes it past the first playoff round.”

How do you feel when things come to the surface now?
“He will surely get a new assignment. But hopefully it may calm down when his behavior becomes less affected in the future.”

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