Former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is a hard man. He was raised the son of a miner in northern Ontario, Manitoba and then Saskatchewan. He lost his mom to cancer when he was still young due to cancer. He was a hard-working hockey player whose leadership skills exceeded his on-ice skills, and he became a hard-nosed, old-school hockey coach.
We all know by now that Mike Babcock treated Johan Franzen terribly during their shared time in Detroit.
I do believe that Babcock’s comments to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun regarding reaching out to Johan are accurate. I do believe that Babcock is genuinely sorry for what he did to cause Johan to have a couple of breakdowns on and off the ice. I do believe that Babcock’s desire to make things right is sincere.
Babcock has evolved and is a genuine advocate for mental health causes these days, and that’s a good thing.
All of that being said, I didn’t think that much about Mike Babcock while reading his words to LeBrun.
I thought about Johan Franzen, who’s still battling post-concussion issues, who’s been posting on Instagram recently about things other than the outgoing U.S. president–which is great–and I thought about whether it’s within Johan to forgive coach Babcock for what he did.
If it isn’t, if Johan can’t forgive Mike Babcock, that’s okay. If it isn’t, if Johan will always hold some anger in his heart toward his former coach, that’s up to Johan.
If it is, and Johan can find some peace with the situation, that’s fantastic, to use a Babcockian term, but if it isn’t, and it probably isn’t, I feel a lot worse for Johan than I do for coach Babcock, and I think that’s where our thoughts should be tonight–with the sympathetic figure here.