Stalberg feeling Hawkish

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Viktor Stalberg was in a deep slumber at his home in Gotheburg, Sweden when the phone rang at 3:30 a.m., on June 30.

"It was the Leafs," he recalled during a phone interview from Chicago. "They told me: "You've been traded, but we don't know where."

For the next five minutes, Stalberg knew he would be wearing one of 29 NHL jerseys in 2010-11. Just not a Maple Leafs one.

"Finally they called back and said: 'It's Chicago.'"

Stalberg is chuckling as he recounted the day he was dealt. He has good reason to be upbeat. After all, if you are going to be moved, the defending Stanley cup champs are one of the better destinations.

Entering play Saturday, Stalberg had three goals for the Hawks, two more than Kris Versteeg, whom the Leafs received in return.

Those stats might be a bit misleading. Despite having countless scoring chances, Versteeg had been snakebit around the net prior to sitting out against the Bruins on Thursday with back ailments. His time will come. He's too good of a player.

Stalberg, meanwhile, continues to battle with the inconsistency that plagued him with the Leafs last season. It's rare that you find the combination of size and speed that he has, but those traits don't always translate into quality shifts.

But with sniper Marian Hossa injured and out of the Chicago lineup, however, Stalberg is getting a chance to play on the top line.

"It's been awesome," Stalberg said, "I knew the Hawks were looking for some younger guys. They're giving me the chance to play with some of the best players in the world."

One of the first things Stalberg did after the trade was to look at the schedule and identify March 5 as the date for his first on-ice return to Toronto when the Hawks meet the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.


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