To be a power forward you cannot be afraid the crease and actually check someone. Franzen avoids going within 10 feet of the net most of the game.
Franzen is an enigma to me. I don't understand how we draft big guys like Franzen and Erikson and they don't know how to use their bodies. I want to like Franzen but he makes it increasinly difficult every year. Its like he's hudler stuck in a giants body. He pretty much need to take this summer to find his balls and then be sat down by Babcock who should slap him in the face and tell him he's in a mans league and learn the term "drive to the net". I have no clue why Franzen plays the way he does. Is he scared? Is he just lazy? Only he knows why he does the stuff he does but its like he's allergic to going to the net someone has to do it and it mind as well be him because no one else will and no one else has a big body like that to push his way in. The few times that he does go to the net throughout the season he creates outstanding scoring changes even if he doesn't score on them. I get so excited when he does it, but then you hardly see it happen especially when it matter in th playoffs.
I really believe the problem is with us, not with Franzen.
For some reason when he signed his new deal fans developed unrealistic expectations for him and they don't match-up with what he's capable of or what the team actually expects of him. Franzen is not going to be a 50 goal scorer, he's a consistent 25-30 goal guy who will put up around 50-60 pts.
The idea that he's lazy is a fan thing, the players call him "Mule" for a reason. Even Babcock who got annoyed with his play near the end of this year seems to speak only positively about him.
Other than guys on entry level contracts it would be near impossible to find a player who produces more for the amount he gets paid.
Franzen is not overpaid for his production. The team itself was streaky it wasn't just Franzen, and I don't think calling him lazy is really fair. Just cause he doesn't dominate shift in and shift out like Datsyuk used to doesn't mean he's lazy... Unrealistic expectations
I honestly don't think people like Franzen and Ericsson are there to dominate. Yeah they don't use their size that much but seriously how often can you say they've been hit hard? If any of us played professional hockey I'd say 90% of us would probably not try to hit a guy like Chara (bit of an extreme example) as much as we would a guy like St. Louis (again extreme example) because 1) it wouldn't have that great an effect and 2) there would be more of a chance at us injuring/hurting ourselves by hitting someone that much bigger. If bigger players on the Wings don't generally hit that much or use their size as effectively as people would expect then maybe it's because they're told not to. Imagine if what I've outlined is actually true, after all it's just a theory I thought of when reading through the comments, and people didn't actively try to hit a big guy like Franzen as much, the space that he'd be left would be a lot greater than if he was hounded all the time. Perhaps he doesn't get involved in all the dirty areas because Babs knows just how good a shot he's got on him when he's got the space. If that's the case, make sure he had all the space available to him, even if it did mean making him look as though he's just skating around and avoiding people most nights. I don't think he's particularly lazy but maybe he's just trying to overthink things too much with what he's been told to do. After all this is a professional sports team, and they all play a game that their coach tells them to play. Yes some people like Dats have the personal creativity to pull off amazing moves and fool defenders but he's still playing the game that Babs tells him to. Perhaps when Franzen is considered "streaky" he's just relaxing a bit more and playing more naturally, then Babs asks him to remember the gameplan and his point productions drop.
Obviously I can't claim to know just what's going on here, like the OP I'm just setting forth a possible scenario that I happened to think about whilst reading through. If an overall gameplan dictates that players are incouraged to play smarter hockey rather than physical or aggressive hockey (which traditionally - 20 years or so - has been the case somewhat) then players like Franzen are always going to get stick from the fans saying their lazy and they don't use their size. Nick could have probably hit a few years off some guys careers if he had tried, but he didn't because making the smart play was more important and more effective most of the time. Even Kronwall's hits, although fairly frequent, have been pretty sure things - guy skating out of his own zone along the boards, bam - I don't think I've ever seen him try something similar in his own zone because one move by the puck carrier and he's way out of position.
In conclusion (I understand I've waffled on an AWFUL lot
) I think Franzen may just be the victim of a team-wide system rather than his own ego or desires. In other words I guess I'm outlining an argument to suggest that Franzen is actually giving a lot MORE to this team than is outwardly visible. Not that I'm actually arguing said argument