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Productive rookies keeping vets on bench

Jimmy Hayes Jaroslav Halak

Jimmy Hayes, Jaroslav Halak

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Updated: April 10, 2012 11:06AM

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks have years of experience just watching right now.

Veteran defenseman Sean O’Donnell and forwards Brendan Morrison and Michael Frolik have all been healthy scratches often as the Hawks’ youth movement has taken over. All three sat out again Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues as the Hawks dressed five rookies for the fourth game in a row.

Coach Joel Quenneville, though, has made sure to visit with the three veterans because he says he’ll need them, especially come the playoffs when experience outweighs youthful exuberance.

“You’re talking about guys who have played a lot in their careers and never been in this position, either,” Quenneville said. “You want to make sure they’re ready to play. You want to make sure they’re conditioning out here.

“Mentally, you have to visit with them on a daily basis to reassure them. But they’ve been around. They know things change quickly. ... The importance of these guys coming into your lineup [for] your team at this time of the season is an important role to fill. You try to keep it positive and keep them part of the team.”

It’s been the play of Frolik, who made a noticeable impact last postseason against the Vancouver Canucks, that’s disappointed. Signed to a three-year deal and having two 21-goal seasons in his past, Frolik has been in and out of the lineup, playing in eight of the last 19 games.

Big things were expected from the 24 year old, but he has five goals, 14 points and a minus-10 rating in 55 games.

“He had a great start, but it hasn’t been anywhere near the way he had hoped or we were hoping it would be right now,” Quenneville said. “But [he has to] stay with it because he’s got some ingredients that can really help our team game. Whether it’s confidence or it’s consistency, we need to put that together.”

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