DETROIT — The Red Wings’ injury problems have gone from serious to surreal.
Johan Franzen, forced into playing center because of injuries to centers Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss and Darren Helm, had to leave Sunday’s game at 4:35 of the second period after a hit from Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas.
After the game, Wings general manager Ken Holland said that Franzen was on the league’s concussion protocol.
Franzen has company as Justin Abdelkader is on the same protocol after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland, who has an in-person hearing with the league this Wednesday.
“There’s been a lot of suspensions headed down lately throughout the league,” Daniel Cleary said. “I’ve always believed the onus falls on the player. It’s a fast game, you have to keep your head up and your arms down, a lot of times these are unnecessary hits. Pretty much every one of them.
“The Abby hit, I thought was a dirty hit, for sure. The one on Mule, I’m not sure, I have to see a better replay, but I don’t think it’s intentional.”
To add insult to injury, Franzen received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after slamming his stick on the boards after the hit.
The team announced late in the second period that Franzen would not return to the game.
“You can’t really think about it too much,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Is it what it is. It’s another opportunity for someone to grab more ice time and do well and really take advantage of it.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Every team goes through this. Just gotta stay positive and stick together as a team. In the long run, I think you’re just going to benefit from it.”
In the short run, Holland said the team would recall another player from Grand Rapids, a center.
The Wings are already missing centers Henrik Zetterberg (back), Darren Helm (shoulder) and Stephen Weiss (groin) and Franzen had been playing center.