Settling in: Frolik feeling at home with Hawks

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Settling in: Frolik feeling at home with Hawks

Monday, March 7, 2011
Posted: 6:00 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

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.
Tallon settled

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.
Briefly

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.

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

Ulf Samuelsson saw the changes the Blackhawks made this season, his hiring as assistant coach being one of them. Soon he’ll be working with the team’s defensemen, another area that’s had some upheaval.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, some uncertainties and some moving parts that I probably, typically haven’t seen going into a season. So that makes it even more interesting and challenging,” Samuelsson said. “So I’m looking forward to this opportunity to really develop and work with some of the younger players.”

From its immediate coach to its personnel, the Blackhawks’ defense is dealing with plenty of change that will continue when the season begins this fall. The Blackhawks have had some addition (Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta and Jordan Oesterle) but dealing with the subtraction (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk) will nevertheless be tough. Coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that pairings are a work in progress.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we're going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” he said. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

For Murphy, who was acquired in the deal that sent Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, there are no set expectations as to where he fits yet.

“With any team you go into training camp proving where you’re going to be. Everyone has to come in and earn certain positions, especially me being a guy who they’re not as familiar with; I have to show what I can do,” Murphy said. “I definitely want to bring a more physical edge to defending at times and be able to skate well, have a good reach, make smart reads and try to help out with whatever’s needed with that.”

As for young players, the opportunity is there. Gustav Forsling admits he wasn’t happy that fellow Swede and role model Hjalmarsson was traded. But Forsling, who looked strong coming out of camp last September, knows he has to take advantage of the situation.

“Of course, I want to take the next step and play more,” he said. “I want to keep progressing my game and keep developing.”

The same goes for Jordan Oesterle, who the Blackhawks signed to a two-year deal on July 1.

“When I wanted to come here the opportunity was tremendous. Just the chance to come in and try to make the top six is there, it’s a battle with a number of us guys but that’s all you ask for in the situation I’m in,” he said. “Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more. I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Again, the Blackhawks could re-address defense once they implement Marian Hossa’s long-term injured reserve after the season begins. General manager Stan Bowman said there’s “no exact plan” right now on how they use that space – “that’s probably going to be dictated by where we’re at when we get to October, how the team’s playing, what areas are strong, what areas we want to add to,” he said.

It remains to be seen on that front. Regardless, from coaching to personnel, much has changed with the Blackhawks defense. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Blackhawks Convention Opening Ceremonies

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Blackhawks Convention Opening Ceremonies

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, we're live at the 2017 Blackhawks Convention. 

Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp join David Kaplan and Pat Boyle to talk about returning to Chicago. 

Later Boyle, CSN Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers, Chris Kuc and Sam Panayotovich discuss the huge roster changes this offseason. 

Listen to the STL Pod below.