It appeared to be another boring Monday in the locked-out NHL world, when, at approximately 2:15 PM Eastern Standard Time, all heck broke loose.
What? No Jim Gray? No ESPN special? No apoplectic Leaf fans burning Cody Franson jerseys in the middle of Yonge Street?
But then, the plot thickened.
Well, that situation diffused rather quickly.
It’s no secret Franson wasn’t happy with his role with the Leafs last season. The 6’5″, 213-pound defenceman played only 57 games, finding himself relegated to the press box on more than a few occasions.
Franson is still a restricted free agent, so the Leafs hold his NHL rights whenever he decides to come back. If he and the Leafs are able to get a new deal done, Franson would be able to come back to Toronto if the lockout ends.
General manager Brian Burke seems to be moving his defence corps in a different direction than years past, putting emphasis on smaller, faster guys who can move the puck quickly out of the zone. Franson doesn’t fit that bill.
But if the Leafs do lose Franson, it leaves a big gap on their power-play and further weakens a struggling defence that already received a blow after the Luke Schenn trade.
Leafs’ Defence Without Franson
On The Bubble: Mark Fraser, Jesse Blacker, Simon Gysbers
Wait, it gets worse. With Phaneuf and Liles manning the blueline on the first power-play unit, who plays with Gardiner on the second unit? Gunnarsson? Do they rush Blacker to the big club on the basis of his offensive acumen alone?
It’s doubtful a 25-year-old defenceman with the skills and capabilities of Franson stays in Sweden for good. But right now, he’s taken the stance that he’s more than happy to stay there for the remainder of the season.
“It’s very inspiring to get to Brynäs, and stay the entire season,” Franson said in a statement released on the club’s website.
Then again, maybe he pulls an Aki Berg and stays as far away as possible from the volatile Toronto media for the rest of his career? You sure can’t blame the guy if that’s the case.