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12-08-2009, 09:42 AM
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"Was afraid to score"
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Detroit's Johan Franzén the anguish that threatened his career

DETROIT. Johan Franzén has been a wonderful breakthrough in the NHL, has a newly written contract worth nearly 300 million and is celebrated star of the Detroit Red Wings.

The paradox is that he now stands in the middle of the spotlight, where his biggest demons always existed.

For there was a time of extreme shyness and stage fright was about to stop his whole career.

Then he ran and hid after the matches, when he truant from school lectures and paid team mate were in Linköping for speaking in his place.

- The only place I felt safe was on the ice, "he says.

Johan Franzén call it sheer horror.

The fear to face others and make speeches, meet the media after the matches and move to new habitats.

- I've always been shy and the first season here, I was almost afraid to score. Then I knew I would be interviewed afterward. It was almost as I shot into the post instead, but only almost. But it was never so I went and chased the target if we led the game clearly. I do not now either.

Few have known Johan Franzén problems back home in Sweden and it is only now he had come upon the worst fears.

- Here in the NHL is of course thrown straight into it. There is no way out, so I had to try to work it out. And confrontation is what works best for all terror, "he says.

During the years in Linköping were the players would give lectures in different contexts, but Franzen managed to always shirk their obligations.

- I will simply pay someone else on the team from their own pockets. I simply can-not of it.

Only he can now openly talk about it shows that he is well on the road.

- But it's still the case that I prefer to slip out of the locker room before reporters allowed into the games.

The extreme shame is why Johan Franzén got such a late breakthrough.

He was a star even as television pucks in Smĺland, but when those responsible for the boy's team called afterward to call him a preparatory camp so he turned them down.

HV 71 managed to attract him to the hockey school of Engineering, but he did not remain in town very long.

- I really do not and it became very absence from school. The times we were asked to give lectures to the class so I could not think of anything else. I kept myself away from lessons until the task was over. It was just not. I used to leave school at lunch and stick and go public skating instead. It was just where I felt safe. Eventually I moved back home. But I still think it was a good choice and that it was better for me to play senior hockey at home than junior hockey in HV.

In small Landsbro he had friends, family and security.

In Myresjö a few miles away, he had the football team.

- I'm the boy headlines until I was seventeen. I was a goalkeeper, even though I thought it was really boring to be in goal. -I really hated it at some practices. But the coach wanted me to stand and so it became.

He then continued with football forward in Landsbro until he was nineteen, which is almost unique for a Swedish hockey player in the NHL.

- But that last year with childhood friends in the football team was actually one of my funniest of Sport so far. We played just because it was fun.

The same winter he made incredible 23 goals in just ten games in the Boro team in Division III. The rumors spread over hockey - Sweden.

Then occurred an incident which is also relatively unknown and could have stopped the career of the then 19-year-old Franzen.

He drove to the referee in a match and got a year off from hockey.

- But we appealed and got it down to ten months, "he says.

What actually happened?

- I was angry and went after the judge and shouted, and when he stopped and put her hands on the sides so I continued to ride.

Franzen shows himself judge gesture of misconduct when he tells us.

- I argued the whole time that I could not stay. The claim I am still, "he says and bursts into a smile.

But after the season began the trek upwards.

Coach Torgny Bendelin managed to get him to move to the Premier Division when Tranĺs 1999-2000 and when Torgny moved to Linköping year after followed by Franzen.

One Linköping lying in the Allsvenskan season.

- I had quotes from the HV 71 and the premier league at the time, but Bendelin managed to persuade me to keep up with the LHC, "he says.

In Linköping, also came the breakthrough, when the LHC took back to the premier league the same season. Back to stay.

- To go up in premier league with Linköping is the funniest thing I have experienced in hockey, after my second Stanley Cup title here in Detroit.

Yet continued Johan Franzén to be an anonymous Swedish player, a hard-working defensive forward who enjoyed excellent in that role. He joined the squad as characteristic coarse jobber and World Cup debut in Prague 2005th

- But it has also been a big part in my development. And it was a role I liked because I did not have all the attention.

But most people were probably surprised when he went to Detroit later that year, of Detroit who draft him as a 24-year-old in 2004. He was relatively high also for being an over-aged players - who number 97 of the third round.

And in Detroit began the transformation to the "new" Johan Franzén.

Power forward, striker, the star.

The Swede who made nine goals in just four games in the playoff series against Colorado in 2008 and played a legend Gordie Howe's 59 years old club record.

- It's the craziest thing I have ever known. Everything went inside. I remember one of the goals, when their goalie covered the entire case. But somehow I managed to get the puck on edge when I shot so the batter into the one small gap that existed between the shin-guards, "he says.

- But when I first came here I started from the bottom to take a seat and worked with the bits I was worse at. But the mentality here is very different than back home in Sweden and we are trying constantly to develop the qualities you have. At home, it was never someone who said I had a good shot. Here sa lagkompsiarna Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby to me almost immediately, that "you are so great has the best shot to use it more. Go to target and shoot! "

- That was how it started. Then it became both Tomas Holmström and Daniel Cleary injured and then I could take their role and standing in front of goal in the power play. When pucks started to collapse into. Then do I turn it on in a culture where you are looking a hero in each match. In the end, would you be the hero himself.

You could say that Franzen succeeded in that case.

While he has not become accustomed to one hundred percent of the new heroic role yet, even if the worst shame disappeared.

And while other NHL millionaires build huge houses all over Sweden, Smĺland Franzéns drömkĺk only 80 squares.

- It is situated on a lake almost as far into the woods you can get. And away from all to avoid visits, "he says.

But it is noticeable that while he started to enjoy a bit in his new role.

Otherwise, he had never told his story so openly.

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