Fritsche defends bid to be traded

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Danny Fritsche took more hits on Sarnia radio yesterday than he has on the ice all season.

Mind you, Fritsche, who was dealt to the London Knights on Monday , played only two regular season games with the Sting, then seven for the United States at the world junior championship because of his bum shoulders.

Sarnia fans accused him of walking out on the team during a morning talk show.

"I loved Sarnia, I never had a problem with Sarnia," the 19-year-old centre said prior to his first Knights practice at the John Labatt Centre.

"Everyone knows we were rebuilding there this year and the organization didn't have high goals or high demands for this year. It's for the future and I think that's why this deal happened."

Fritsche admitted he approached general manager Alan Millar about a trade following his delayed return to Sarnia from the world junior in Grand Forks, N.D.

But he said he didn't demand a trade.

Following the world junior championship, where he scored three goals and had three assists, "I walked in and asked (Millar) if he would talk to teams, and any teams that came up with an offer that would better fit the Sarnia Sting organization for the future and better fit me, I would give him my blessing.

"But I told him if he couldn't find anything, I would stay in Sarnia and work my hardest, and that was it. Fortunately, he found me a great spot here and he got a good deal out of it for his team in the future."

The Sting received a fifth-round draft pick in 2005, a third in 2006 and a second in 2007.

The world junior ended Jan. 4 but Fritsche didn't get back to Sarnia until the weekend, missing three OHL games.

He said he was diagnosed with bronchitis after returning home to Parma, Ohio, and his doctor put him on medication, which he was prohibited from taking while at the world junior under IIHF doping rules.

"I'm still getting over it," he said. "It's kind of unfortunate I wasn't able to come back and play in the three last games.

"I hope people and fans in Sarnia realize -- I know they don't -- how sick I was. It looks kind of bad, I understand, because they saw me playing on TV . . . but they don't understand how hard I was battling through those games.

"The doctor just told me to kind of hang low and rest, so I decided to stay (in Parma)."

Fritsche, a second-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets -- he played 19 games in the NHL last season -- has undergone surgery on both shoulders.

An operation in September kept him out of the Sting lineup until December.

Blue Jackets president-GM Doug MacLean has said he wished Fritsche, who is six-foot-two and 198 pounds, wouldn't play such a physical game.

"I'm not going to change my game, no matter where I go," Fritsche said. "I'm a high-energy player . . . I like throwing hits and give them as much as I can."

He said he strained his shoulder with a check during the bronze-medal game against the Czech Republic.

"When I'm on the ice, I don't think about it.

"After the game, when they're sore, that's when I think about it."


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