Monday, March 7, 2011
Posted: 6:00 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
SUNRISE, Fla. Michael Frolik was a bit surprised when the Florida Panthers traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks in early February.
The 23-year-old forward was one of many young up-and-coming players for the Panthers and was coming off his second consecutive 21-goal season. And theres no doubt he went through an adjustment period with his new team.
The first two games I was running around, I wasnt sure when I should go or not, Frolik said. Right now its much better.
And thats coming through on the score sheet, too.
Frolik, who has two goals and two assists in his last three games, will face his former team for the first time since that Feb. 9 deal when the Blackhawks take on the Panthers Tuesday night. For Frolik, who came here in exchange for Jack Skille, who will be out another 2-4 weeks with an ankle injury, itll be a little strange facing off against his old mates.
I liked to play with those guys and I had a great experience starting here, Frolik said following Mondays practice. But thats the way it goes. (Chicagos) a hockey city and the fans are great there. I like it. Things are better every day and I feel more comfortable.
Frolik said he was surprised when the trade came down. General manager Dale Tallon said the move was to change the dynamic of this team.
We had similar players to Michael, (Rostislav) Olesz and (Evgeny) Dadonov, Tallon said. We needed speed and physicality for our lineup. Were not at that place right now. So it was just a matter of getting a different dynamic to our lineup.
Frolik has settled in nicely with linemates Jake Dowell and Troy Brouwer. Scoring never hurts, especially for a guy who was in a 32-game goal slump before he scored last Wednesday against Calgary. But coach Joel Quenneville liked what Frolik was showing even before the points started coming again.
We talked about it before he started scoring, we thought his overall game was still what we were looking for, he said. Hes a threat around the net, hes dangerous and that line is dangerous a lot of nights. Our team game has improved; we four lines that can score and can make plays. He compliments that side of our game as well.
Former Blackhawks and current Panthers general manager Dale Tallon doesnt mind the Florida life one bit.
I dont have a snowblower, I dont have to shovel the driveway and my car starts every morning, Tallon said with a laugh.
Tallon, who became the Panthers GM last May, is trying to build his new team in the same successful mode in which he constructed the Blackhawks. His name engraved on the Stanley Cup for his part in creating that 2009-10 winning squad, Tallon said hes now focused on the Panthers.
Once I drank out of the Cup it was closure and I moved on, Tallon said. Everythings great here. Its a great staff, everyones on the same page. After Mondays trade deadline, were looking forward to moving up the barometer.
The young Panthers have struggled again this season, as theyre currently 13th in the Eastern Conference. But Tallon said the potential is there.
There are some good assets here, prior to me being here. Now we just have to keep adding pieces to the puzzle, he said. Well use a similar plan to what we did in Chicago.
Tallon said he still keeps a close relationship with a lot of Blackhawks staff as well as the players well text each other and give each other shots. Its a good group of guys. But I have to cut the cord and move on.
He said he wont be going to the White House with the Blackhawks later this week to meet President Obama. But hes OK with that, too.
Im a Republican anyway, he said with a smile.
Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson did not practice on Monday. Keith did not play the last 15 minutes of the Blackhawks 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs after blocking a shot off his right hand. Coach Joel Quenneville said both are expected to play Tuesday against the Panthers.
Goaltender Corey Crawford will get the nod on Tuesday. It will be his 12th consecutive start.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.