Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Make Way For The Viking

I'd like to introduce you to Jonas Frogren.

Around here we call him the "Viking". In Sweden, they call him the "Fridge". By sheer coincidence, y'know, my fridge is a Viking.

He's one of my favorite Leafs, yet he's currently buried on the Leafs' depth chart under 8 NHL defenceman that all have greater experience and qualifications. I want to keep cheering for Frogren in the Blue and White, but I don't see how he's going to find a spot in this line-up.

In fact, I don't even see his name listed on the Leafs' roster at the moment, nor is he listed "In The System". His name does appear though on the Marlies' roster on their official site. It could be that Frogren isn't really in the Leafs' plans this year and is destined to serve out the rest of his contract in the minors. I hope that's not true. I hope there's a way to keep him around and find him a spot as the Leafs' 7th or 8th defenceman.Frogren is fearless when it comes to blocking shots (41 in limited ice-time) and he also hits hard, and often too. 74 hits in 41 games - only Schenn and Finger throw bodychecks from the blue line with greater frequency. While he doesn't fight much, Jonas can and will put little pukes like Jarkko Ruutu on their back with authority.Burke said recently that if the Leafs are going to be a playoff team, then they'll need eight defenceman. Assuming Kaberle (10 days...), Schenn, Komisarek, and Beauchemin are safe, that leaves White, Finger, Exelby, and Van Ryn. Frogren could be number 9, but don't forget Oreskovic who also deserves a chance. Unless Burke can swing a deal for one of these defenders, or until Van Ryn's inevitable bone-a'splosion, there just isn't room onboard for the Viking.

Here's a suggestion for Wilson that would have the side benefit of helping Jonas stay on the team: Let's move Ian White up to forward. The Leafs lost 2 solid players up front at the trade-deadline last year and have only replaced Antro and Moore thus far with Orr and Primeau. That still leaves a huge offensive hole that hasn't been filled. Hanson, Wallin, and Bozak have promise but are unproven. White's got the right skills to be a tenacious forechecker and dangerous weapon - a stylish combination of grit and grace, or as Chemmy declared it, "moustachulence". He's shown he can put the puck in the net at the right time, like he did November 2nd, 2008, the first goal of the game in the 1st period of the first game he played all year, the Leafs' second game in November, and therefore one of the most important goals of the season. Moving White to forward would immediately improve the scoring depth up front while opening up a spot on the crowded blue line.

Frogren's contract ended up hurting the Leafs and his contribution was minor and interrupted by injury. Maybe he doesn't deserve to be on the Leafs or even in the NHL, but here's why I want him on my team: He sets the bottom line. No defender is allowed to be worse then he is. At the same time, and much like Todd Gill - He. Tries. So. Hard. With every shift, he's trying to prove he belongs here. That kind of effort and sacrifice from the bottom up enforces accountability throughout the lineup.

Also, he seems to be something of a motorcycle enthusiast. I'm not sure why that's cool, but it is.

Here's a clip from one of Frogren's best games, scoring his first NHL goal and laying a solid hit on Evgeni Malkin. Below that is a clip with a nice interview to help you get to know the Viking a little better.

I think keeping Frogren down on the minors would be a waste of a good asset, especially after the trouble gone through to acquire him, and a sad conclusion to a long journey.

"This is my adventure," roars the Viking. "I've got nothing to lose and to be playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs is just so cool."

Nice. I hope it continues, Jonas. Good luck in September.


blurr1974 said...

that's a nice fridge!

bkblades said...

If Frogren didn't get injured, I think he would have been the Leafs sixth defenseman at the worst. As you said, he's the perfect bottom pairing d-man. Shot-blocker who fears nothing with a lot of grit and nastiness. I've said it before, but Frogren is the closest guy who reminds me of Yushkevich & Markov. My bias is showing obviously, but that sort of resemblance scores major points on my list.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks, blurr!

Hey, bk! I like the comparison to Yuskevich and Markov. A little less crazy, but just as fearless.

Archimedies said...

Loving this post.

Black leather and motocycles on off days = BAD ASS Motherfucker.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks, Archi!