CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks will welcome back to the United Center a second player from last season’s Stanley Cup team on Wednesday.
Following Dave Bolland's recent return to Chicago with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Michael Frolik makes his first appearance in Chicago as a Winnipeg Jet on Wednesday. Frolik was dealt to the Jets in the offseason after playing a key role on the Blackhawks’ penalty kill last season.
“Obviously, it brings a lot of great memories,” Frolik said Wednesday morning. “It feels special to be back. Hopefully I’m going to have a good tonight, but obviously it’s special. I will remember this place, I think, for the rest of my life.”
Frolik was surprised by how quickly he was dealt after last season. The Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup on June 24, and he was traded for draft picks on June 30.
“I was surprised, yeah, for sure,” said Frolik, who had dinner with the Blackhawks’ Michal Rozsival and Marian Hossa in Winnipeg last week. “It happened so quick. It was just like a few days after we won. I didn’t expect it at all. But that’s hockey. That’s the business. That’s how it goes. It happened, and I moved on. Now I’m glad I’m here.”
Frolik has received more ice time and better offensive opportunites with the Jets. He has three goals and six assists and has averaged 14:35 of ice time in 16 games this season. He had three goals and 10 assists and averaged 12:31 of ice time in 45 games with the Blackhawks last season.
The Blackhawks haven't had much luck replacing Frolik this season. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been in a constant search to fill Frolik's spot alongside Marcus Kruger on the penalty kill.
The Blackhawks ranked third in the league with an 87.2 penalty-kill percentage last season. They are ranked last at 73.2 percent this season.
“Last year was special,” Frolik said. “Me and Kruges, we got something great going on. It changed. Maybe they miss me. I don’t know. It’s hard to say.”