Ex-NHL coach under fire for alleged treatment of player while with Detroit Red Wings

Former NHL coach Mike Babcock came under fire Monday from players he used to coach when he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

Babcock, who was recently fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was accused of verbally assaulting winger Johan Franzen. Stanley Cup champion Chris Chelios made the accusation on Barstool Sports’ podcast “Spittin’ Chiclets.” Chelios recalled Babcock “verbally assaulting” Franzen during the playoffs.

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“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,” Chelios said on the podcast.

Detroit Red Wings' Detroit Red Wings' Johan Franzen yells at the referee after taking a hit to the head against the Toronto Maple Leafs during first-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.

Detroit Red Wings' Detroit Red Wings' Johan Franzen yells at the referee after taking a hit to the head against the Toronto Maple Leafs during first-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. (The Associated Press)

Franzen and Chelios were teammates on the Red Wings from 2005 to 2009.

Franzen, who has not played in an NHL game since 2015 due to post-concussion syndrome, confirmed the incident to Swedish media.

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“I get the shivers when I think about it,” he said. “That incident occurred against Nashville in the playoffs. It was coarse, nasty and shocking. But that was just one out of a hundred things he did. The tip of the iceberg.”

Franzen recalled being “terrified” of going on the ice after the first time Babcock berated him.

“He's a terrible person, the worst I have ever met,” Franzen said. “He's a bully who was attacking people. It could be a cleaner at the arena in Detroit or anybody. He would lay into people without any reason.”

Franzen and Chelios’ account of Babcock come more than a week after Maple Leafs star Mitchell Marner confirmed a story that Babcock made him rank players and share the list with his teammates during the 2016-17 season.

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“I was lucky enough that the guys that were there with me, none of them took it to heart and they knew it wasn't up to me to make the list,” Marner told TSN. “That was a lucky situation. But it's over with now; it's out of my head.”

Babcock told The Athletic he apologized for the incident with Marner.