Former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock regrets treating Johan Franzen the way he did

One of the most successful head coaches of the modern NHL era, Babcock guided the upstart Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to within one game of the 2003 Stanley Cup championship. Following his hiring by the Red Wings in 2005, he proceeded to win a total of 458 games in the Motor City that included four straight 50-win seasons, the 2008 Stanley Cup falling one win short of a repeat in 2009.

He chose to move on from Detroit in 2015 after 10 years, accepting a contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs that made him the highest-paid bench boss in the sport.

However, after his dismissal by Toronto in November of 2019, his career came under scrutiny after multiple reports from former (and current) players painted Babcock in a less-than-flattering light regarding his treatment of them and coaching style.

One of the more scathing reports of Babcock’s actions as coach came from former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen, who described the former as “the worst person I’ve ever met”.

“He’s a terrible person, the worst person I’ve ever met,” Franzen said in 2019. “A bully who cheated on people, it could be cleaners in the Detroit arena or anyone. He jumped on people just because.”

Babcock, who was recently hired by NBC as an analyst, gave his first public interview since his dismissal as head coach of the Maple Leafs last November. He touched on Franzen’s comments, stating he feels regret for his actions and that he’s even reached out to the player we affectionately called “The Mule”.

“He was a big man with great hands. When he first came here, we thought he was a checker and he turned himself into an unbelievable player.“When a player that you’ve coached says that about you, it stings you big time. But not only does it sting for that, if you’ve been involved with mental health like I have …’”

“Can you imagine having someone say that about you when you have been involved in mental health as much as I have? Now, I’ve reached out to (Franzen). That’s not going to make anything go away.”

Babcock also drew the ire of players with the Maple Leafs, including an episode in which he was alleged to have embarrassed rookie forward Mitch Marner in front of the entire team.

“Nothing can hurt you more than something like this,” Babcock said. “Your whole plan as a coach, and your plan as a parent, is to provide the best opportunity for everyone to be the best they can be,” Babcock added. “And that’s what you do to have success. And you can’t have success year after year in any league without a good environment. It just doesn’t happen.”

“So when something like this comes out, that hurts you. And it should. No one ever wants to be perceived that way. I can think of nothing worse than one of my kids going through something that they feel would be like this.”

Do you believe that Babcock’s image will soften in light of these recent remarks?

– – Quotes via Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic Link – –

Written by Michael Whitaker

Always at the front lines of Detroit Sports.

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