Sport Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios says Mike Babcock was 'verbally assaulting' Detroit Red Wings' Johan Franzen
Oilers GM Ken Holland says he was unaware of Mike Babcock mistreating players while coaching Detroit
"Am I aware that there was some unhappiness? Yeah. But there's always going to be some unhappiness. I don't care what your style is. But some stuff, I'm not aware of.""I've been a general manager for 22 years," said Holland — who has worked with Scotty Bowman, Dave Lewis, Babcock, Jeff Blashill and now Dave Tippett in his 22 years as an NHL general manager — via TSN. "At the end of the year, I always do exit interviews. A player not liking the coach, not liking their role, not liking who they’re playing with – I hear that all the time.
The days since the Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock have beenand abuse against him and now-former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters. On Tuesday, a Hockey Hall of Famer levied new accusations against Babcock that stem from their time together with the Detroit Red Wings.
Chris Chelios — who played 26 seasons in the NHL —on Monday that Mike Babcock verbally assaulted former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen to the point that Franzen had a nervous breakdown.
“Yeah, that would be an easy one. It would be Johan Franzen," Chelioswhen podcast co-host Bissonette asked him if Babcock's coaching style ever put players in a poor mental state.
Former Red Wing Darren McCarty says Mike Babcock cost Detroit the Stanley Cup in 2009
"And it's not just the Johan Franzens and the Chris Chelioses. It doesn't matter who you are. It's a personal thing."McCarty, 47, played 13 of his 15 NHL seasons with Detroit, first under head coaches Scotty Bowman and Dave Lewis from 1993-2004 during a period in which the Red Wings won three championships. Babcock was inserted as the team's head coach when the NHL returned from the 2004-05 lockout, at which point McCarty joined the Calgary Flames.
"What [Babcock] did to him at the end, he was hurt at the time, it was the playoffs I think we lost to [the Nashville Predators], we got upset with Nashville. Some of the things [Babcock said to Franzen] on the bench, I don’t know what he said to him behind closed doors one-on-one, but he blatantly verbally assaulted him during the game on the bench.”
Franzen, 39, remains under contract with Detroit through 2019-20 but has not played in the NHL since October 2015 due to lingering problems from post-concussion syndrome. He revealed in a December 2018 interview that he, anxiety and panic attacks and said he was after stepping away from hockey.
“It got to the point where poor Johan, no one really knowing he was suffering with the concussion thing and the depression thing, he just broke down and had a nervous breakdown," Chelios added. "Not only on the bench but after the game in one of the rooms in Nashville. That was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Ex-Red Wing Johan Franzen calls Mike Babcock 'the worst (person) I have ever met'
Former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen: "He’s a bully who was attacking people. He would lay into people without any reason.” Asked if a player ever came to him and accused Babcock of abusive behavior, former Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press, “no. The answer is no.”Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning. Franzen also confirmed a story Chris Chelios revealed during Monday’s episode of the podcast, "Spittin’ Chiclets." The incident happened during Game 5 of the Wings’ 2012 playoff series against Nashville.
Below is an excerpt of Chelios' interview with Spittin Chiclets released on Dec. 2.
Babcock verbally assaulted Johan Franzen on the bench, causing Franzen a nervous break down— Peter Andrianopoulos (@peterandri)
Chelios and Franzen played together on the Red Wings from 2005-09, but heas a front office executive and assistant coach for the remainder of Franzen's NHL career. The Red Wings moved from the Western Conference to the East in , suggesting this particular incident between Babcock and Franzen happened during one of two Nashville-Detroit playoff series in either 2008 or 2012.
According to Chelios, no veterans on the team — which included Red Wings legends Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg — confronted Babcock about this behavior and that when general manager Ken Holland was alerted of the incident, he stood behind his head coach.
"Guys talked, obviously, amongst each other," Chelios said on the podcast. "But when something did happen and there was some second-guessing and it got to Kenny Holland, Kenny Holland came down to the room and had this speech and supported Mike Babcock. It was a great speech, but [it was to tell everybody] in the room that if you don’t like it, you could be traded. ‘Come up and see me, you can be traded.’ So that was kind of the way that ended.”
The podcasters — Barstool Sports blogger Rear Admiral and former NHLers Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette — said that Chelios reached out to them in the wake of Babcock's firing.
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