06/10/2010 10:03 AM
- From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
PHILADELPHIA -- Lying in bed as a child, Jonathan Toews spent countless hours wondering what it would be like to win a Stanley Cup.
It's a safe bet that the way the Chicago Blackhawks' captain won it at the Wachovia Center Wednesday night never factored into his dreams. When your teammate scores in overtime, it's supposed to trigger an instant celebration.
But Patrick Kane was likely the sole person in the building who knew his sharp-angled shot found its way past Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton. Toews certainly didn't know. The announcement that took roughly 60 seconds probably felt longer than the season Toews just completed, which lasted 105 games between the regular season, the Olympics and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He emerged a Stanley Cup champion and the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player.
"I believed in him," Toews said of Kane, his tag-team partner when it comes to the resurgence of the Blackhawks, who were crowned champions for the first time in 49 years. "I don't think he would have thrown his gloves off like that if he wasn't 100 percent sure. He sold it pretty good if the puck didn't go in. But it was kind of an awkward celebration. We didn't know what to do. It didn't matter how it happened or how it went in. We're all proud of Kaner for stepping up like that. It's a pretty awesome feeling."
It was a pretty awesome feeling for former GM Dale Tallon and the rest of the franchise when Toews walked from his seat at General Motors Place in Vancouver -- where Toews helped Canada win the gold medal in February -- to the podium after being selected with the third pick by the Blackhawks in 2006. Four years later, Toews did what the Blackhawks believed he could do -- hoist the Stanley Cup for the city of Chicago.
"Jonathan Toews is a special human being," coach Joel Quenneville said. "A young kid (who) had one of those years. Big player in the Olympics, big player for us in the playoffs. The bigger the setting, the bigger the game. The bigger he seems to rise to that challenge and that occasion. He was a big factor tonight, (he) was a big factor in his leadership. Doesn't say too much, but his competitiveness of wanting to be the best he can be every time he hits the ice is noticed."
Toews certainly didn't dominate the Stanley Cup Final -- he had just 3 assists in six games -- but he certainly was special this postseason. So special, in fact, he took home the Conn Smythe. The 22-year-old captain had 29 points (7 goals, 22 assists) in 22 games. He left the goal-scoring to Kane, who lifted the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory at 4:06 of overtime.
"We have pretty different personalities," Kane said. "I think one thing that remains the same with us is we both love hockey and we both love to compete and play the game. Obviously, it's fun to be around a kid like that. He loves to win. He loves to play. He's a great player. And he's had a hell of a year. He's going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future as far as, I think, one of the greats of all time."
On the ice? That's certainly a possibility. Off the ice, however, Toews may already be one of the all-time greats.
"I'd really like to check Jon's birth certificate because he is a man among boys out here," said veteran forward John Madden, owner now of three Stanley Cups. "He plays so hard and competes so hard in everything he does. I always joke at home if my son turns out half as good as Jon, then we have done a good job. That's how I think of him."
It's probably how Steve Yzerman thought of Toews when he chose him to represent Team Canada at the Olympic Games in February. Toews, who had 25 goals and 68 points during the regular season, scored a huge goal for his country when he beat Ryan Miller during an overtime victory against the United States that determined the gold-medal winner.
Less than four months after capturing gold, Toews won silver. Naturally, he was asked to compare winning the Olympics and the most prestigious trophy in all of sports.
"I think they're both special in their own way," he said. "Not to take any attention off our team here right now, but to represent your own country, especially Canada at the Olympics, your home country, that's something you'll probably never experience again in your lifetime as a hockey player, so that's pretty cool.
"On the other hand, everything you go through -- the tough times over a long season like we had this year -- it's such a great group of guys that we have in this locker room. Nothing compares to that camaraderie and what you go through as a team. The pressure we were facing all season to get to this point and win a Stanley Cup, we knew we could do it and we battled hard for each other. That's what makes this one so much better."
The 19 other guys in the Blackhawks' dressing room saw what was special about Toews and were willing to battle both for and with him. It's a major reason why the Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions for the first time since 1961.
"We had so many guys step up," Toews said. "Obviously, the guys made me look good out there. It's incredible."