He carved a name for himself with his gritty play and clutch goal scoring. But the man known as “The Mule” isn’t doing as well these days.
Former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen was forced to retire from the NHL in 2015, but the real problem is that he is now living post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s also battling with depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks.
“Sometimes my whole world falls apart and I can’t see the light in the end of the tunnel,” Franzen said to Gunnar Nordstrom of SportExpressen. “All I can do then is to sleep and lay in my bed. I take antidepressants and try to feel better again. But it quickly gets dark. Very dark.”
Franzen had plenty of clutch moments while playing with Detroit, including his outscoring of the entire Colorado Avalanche roster during a four game sweep in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as well as a four goal game against the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also scored five goals against the Ottawa Senators on February 2, 2011.
He was forced to miss the rest of the 2015 season after sustaining a concussion after being hit by Edmonton’s Rob Klinkhammer in January. He also sustained a head injury during the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals after being hit by Pittsburgh’s Gary Roberts.
Franzen, his wife Cissi and two sons plan to move back to his native Sweden soon.
“I still have many of my best memories from here (Detroit) but the last few years I have just wanted to leave. I don’t want to be inside these walls. There has been so much anxiety, panic and depression……I use to go to the mountains. As soon as I see a mountain I feel better. Just to be outside in the nature.”
His nickname of “The Mule” was originally bestowed on him by Steve Yzerman before his rookie season in 2005-06.
“He’s big and strong and he reminded me of a mule that day,” Yzerman said. “His offensive game really started to show up last year and now that his confidence has grown, he is holding onto the puck and making plays.”