As center by necessity, Frolik learning on job
By ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org March 18, 2011 12:22AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
DALLAS — It’s wasn’t that long ago that Michael Frolik said he preferred playing wing to playing center. In fact, it was the last time he was in Dallas, when he made his Blackhawks debut.
Now Frolik is trying to settle into his new role at center. He played his fourth consecutive game in the middle Thursday against the Dallas Stars with Dave Bolland still recovering from a concussion.
‘‘It’s getting better, but it wasn’t easy at the start,’’ said Frolik, who has the important job of setting up Marian Hossa on the second line. ‘‘I’m trying to work on my faceoffs and stuff. . . . I sometimes overskate [areas on the ice] because it’s different in the middle. But I feel good there.’’
To improve his faceoffs, Frolik made sure to listen to Ryan Johnson, who offered him tips during the Hawks’ morning skate. Johnson has the best winning percentage on faceoffs on the team.
‘‘He’s one of the best that I see,’’ said Frolik, who won 6 of 10 draws against the Stars. ‘‘He’s got different techniques that you can see. He’s pretty low. He taught me how to turn the stick and how to sit down with your legs as power. He helped me, for sure. I thanked him. It was good advice.’’
There’s no timeline for Bolland’s return, but the Hawks will take a cautious approach because of how valuable he is and how much he’ll be needed if the team makes the playoffs. The Hawks won’t deny that they miss what their check-first center, who specializes in agitation, adds to their dynamic.
‘‘We’ve all learned to play without some of our key players over the years . . . but we’re definitely looking forward to having him back,’’ Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said.
The Hawks aren’t asking Frolik to be Bolland, but he is capable of doing some of the same things — minus the agitation.
Coach Joel Quenneville was pleased by what Frolik was able to do at center when he thrust him into the position last week against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the first time Frolik had played center since reaching the NHL three years ago with the Florida Panthers.
‘‘Over time, he’ll probably get more comfortable both offensively and defensively and even in the faceoff circle,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘[But] he’s doing all right.’’
Considering he said preferred wing last month, does Frolik like playing center?
‘‘Yeah,’’ he said. ‘‘You have to be able to play the position that they put you [in]. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but it’s different. Each [game], you get used to it a little bit. As each game goes by, I feel better there.’’