Young Toews Isn't Short On Confidence

By:
05/07/2009 2:31 PM - From ChicagoBlackhawks.com: (Link)

CHICAGO -- Following a productive workout with his teammates on the ice at United Center, Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews skates off the ice and begins his short trek to the locker room.

He knows his day is far from over. There will likely be a dozen or more media members surrounding him just as he reaches the bench to his stall, which is positioned right next to the other young gun on this team, Patrick Kane.

If familiarity breeds contempt, Toews certainly doesn't show it. He's a professional in every sense of the word despite the fact he might be asked the same question three times over the course of the 10-minute span. Sure, there are times he provides a stock answer, but he's not afraid to ad lib every now and again.

As the 21-year-old captain of a Blackhawks team to reach the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in over a decade, Toews has that kind of confidence. He may look at you strange or even offer a smile, but there's no denying the fact he's genuine and true -- much like his game on the ice.

But Toews has hit the proverbial wall this past week following a bout with the flu. After connecting for 2 goals and 6 points in his team's six-game elimination of the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference quarterfinal, he's accounted for just one assist and a minus-2 rating in three games against the Vancouver Canucks in the Conference Semifinal.

"You see guys like him … I mean, he was really sick and still played through it which is more than I can say because I sat out a game when I had the flu," Kane said. "Jonathan Toews is a warrior who loves the game -- he just loves hockey."

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better summation of the 34th captain in franchise history. Still, with his Hawks now trailing 2-1 in this best-of-7 series with the Canucks, one would think Toews would begin feeling a little hot under the collar.

Not so.

"Driving home after a loss, you tend to think about all the things that went wrong and everything that's negative," Toews said. "It's easy to think that way after a loss but you have to remind yourself not to get to low after a loss just as you do not want to get too high after a win. You want to stay mentally positive and have some fun."

Did he just say fun? Jonathan, these are the playoffs. We're not back in Winnipeg, Manitoba, preparing for a pick-up hockey game on the neighborhood lake.

"Look, it's tough to forget about stuff," he explained. "When you're happy and things are good and you feel like things are going your way, you know darn well that's not the reality of it. You have to put that behind you, learn from it and do your best to prepare for the next game because things might not be as good."

Toews admits the pressure is no different for him than it is on any of his teammates, even though he's the only player with the big letter 'C' stitched on his jersey.

"Every guy in this room is trying to put a little bit more pressure on himself," Toews said. "You have to be thinking that, on any given shift, I might be that guy who scores a big goal or makes a big play that changes things. I feel the same way."

To that end, Toews is confident his best is yet to come. Now whether or not that happens in this series or down the road makes no difference. What does matter is the fact he believes it will happen and that's the sign of a leader.

"I feel my best hockey in this series is still to be played and I'm still thinking there are a lot of ways I can contribute more," he said. "It was a tough loss (in Game 3) but hopefully I can do something here to try to change things and switch the momentum a little bit. You're never satisfied with the way you played or the way things went and, really, this is still a learning experience for a lot of us in here. I felt there were things I could have changed or done differently in certain games that would have resulted in a goal but I'm improving every game."

Kane describes Toews as a player who'll do anything to help a teammate.

"He's a pretty even-keel guy," Kane said. "I think if you looked at video of him in this series, the series against Calgary and the regular season, you would notice he's pretty much the same player every night whether he's scoring goals or fighting for loose pucks.

"He's either contributing on the defensive end or creating plays. Jon is our No. 1 center and probably our best player too, so obviously he's going to be great in the future," Kane continued. "Sometimes you have slumps, I go through them, but it's the way you get out of them and he's certainly broken out quickly when it's happened in the past."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp knows Toews is doing all he can to rebound in a big way.

"I don't have any issues with our captain," Sharp said. "He's done a great job all year long and it's playoff time and he's one of our top guys. He's going to be checked hard so we need him to fight through that the best he can and I think he's done a great job. He's not one of those guys who talks all the time in the room about what needs to be done, but he can assess a situation and know when the right time is to speak up."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.



Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer


Search Archive »




Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
200
0

Browse by Month »

July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200