Blackhawks’ Michael Frolik to play in Czech Republic
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com September 22, 2012 7:34PM
Michael Frolik became the first Hawks player to sign with a European team during the NHL lockout. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:50AM
While Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp mull over their European options during the NHL lockout and try to stay patient during stalled negotiations, one teammate has reached a decision.
Winger Michael Frolik will play closer to home for the time being, signing with Chomutov of the Czech Extraliga on Saturday. He’s the first Hawks player to sign overseas, joining plenty of other NHLers — many of European descent — who have done so since the work stoppage began more than a week ago.
Frolik is from Kladno in the Czech Republic, which is about an hour away from Chomutov. Frolik’s first game is scheduled for Tuesday.
After an up-and-down regular season in which he had 15 points in 63 games and often was a healthy scratch, Frolik played for the Czech Republic in the world championships, scoring twice in 10 games. It was the second time he played in the world championships.
‘‘We had a good group, so the end was a little bit better [for me],’’ Frolik said this summer. ‘‘But for sure the [Hawks] season, you want to forget it and try to focus on the next one and maybe change some things.’’
Frolik spent most of last season in a defensive role. He said it took him awhile to adjust to it after being used as a top-six player who got time on the power play during the first three seasons of his career with the Florida Panthers.
‘‘I had a good start but couldn’t score, and then everything turned around,’’ said Frolik, who has two years left on his three-year contract with the Hawks and is set to make $2.1 million in 2012-13. ‘‘I was getting nervous because I wasn’t scoring. I was too tight. It wasn’t easy, but it was last season. I’ll try to learn from it, forget about it and make sure it’s different next year.’’
Frolik said being in the Czech Republic helped him to relax.
‘‘It’s always nice to be back home and spend some time with the family,’’ he said. ‘‘You don’t get to see them that much. You try to hang out with your friends and get ready for the season.’’
It wouldn’t be surprising if other Hawks players, especially those from Europe, do the same as Frolik.
Winger Viktor Stalberg seriously is considering playing in Sweden, telling local media that Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League would be his first choice. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson recently left Chicago and returned to Sweden, too.
If the lockout lasts months or eliminates the 2012-13 season, Toews, Kane and others might join them, too.
‘‘One way or another, I’ll be playing hockey,’’ Toews said this week. ‘‘Hopefully it’s here in Chicago.’’