There have definitely been stretches where Franzen hasn't been giving all of his effort. Not gonna stick up for him for that ever. The thing is, even when he is working his ass off but not scoring, he is still accused of floating. He has become that much of a whipping boy that not scoring automatically means he is not trying. I saw a hard working Franzen in the playoffs. He wasn't driving the net as much as he should have, but he was still skating. If he works, I have no issue with him being here. Because even if he isn't scoring, he is responsible in his own end. It is just a matter of having enough scoring depth that the team doesn't absolutely depend on him going into beast mode to win. If the team has that depth, his contract does not hinder the team one bit. Also, his dry spell this season was not nearly as bad as it was the season before last. IF he can avoid a head injury this coming season, I have no doubt he can be a very effective player for the team. It is just a matter of managing expectations of him.
Even when Datsyuk came back from a concussion, he was hesitant to get into the dirty areas for a nice while. As someone who has had my bell rung when I was a teen, I can't really fault someone for not getting too involved with the rough stuff. Especially in a professional sport at that level. I still think next season when he is good and healthy again, the coaching staff should park him in front of the net on the PP.
But this is nothing new for Franzen. I've been holding out hope for several seasons now, making excuses for him and defending him, and ever year its lather, rinse, repeat.
Is it a concussion or anxiety/mental illness or laziness, I really don't know. But watching him out on the ice, he looks like he's just out of gas. He looks so tired and lethargic, the way he skates, the way he shoots the puck, the way he hits. There just seems to be no energy behind anything he does. What frustrates me the most is when he gets knocked down or falls down. While other players pop back up in an instant, it takes Franzen forever to get back to his feet, and even longer to get back into the play. I find myself screaming at the TV.
I don't think that it's criticism for when he's not scoring goals. No one gives Helm s*** when he doesn't score. Because he's noticeable and is involved in the play and plays hard every shift. Datsyuk and Zetterberg seem to have pointless or goalless streaks every year, but no one ever accuses them of being lazy or uninterested.
I agree 100% with what Babcock said about how Franzen handles the media. Okay, we get it, you're shy and what not, but so is Datsyuk, so was Brad Stuart. But you don't have to say idiotic things when you do talk. Take some responsibility, act like you care, show an ounce of passion or something. Stop with the "I'm not a goal scorer crap". His attitude off the ice seems to reflect his play on the ice. Fans would be much more apt to give Franzen the benefit of the doubt if he at least acted like he cared.