Toews, Hawks Earned Respect And Now Want More

By:
09/16/2009 10:14 AM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)

Jonathan Toews
' second offseason as an NHL player was much different from the first.

For one, it was a lot shorter. That's perhaps the only downside to making it to the Western Conference Finals -- as opposed to missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs entirely, which the Chicago Blackhawks did in Toews' rookie season.

Beyond seeing a decrease in his vacation time, the 21-year-old noticed an increase in stature for himself and his teammates among hockey fans in Chicago, or anywhere else he went.

"You get recognized and people come up and ask for autographs in the most unexpected places now," the Hawks' captain told NHL.com, "whereas before maybe around the rink and in certain restaurants where you see a lot of Hawks fans, but now it's everywhere. The fan support's been unbelievable, and we only expect it to get better from here, too."

While just a few years ago you'd be hard-pressed to pick out a Hawks jersey in Chicago amid all the fans wearing Cubs, Bears and Bulls gear, Blackhawks jerseys with Toews, Kane, Versteeg and others now adorn the backs of Chicagoans from all walks of life.

Even outside of Chicago and north of the border, Hawks-related memorabilia is a hot item -- one fan at the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game held recently in Terrace, B.C., was spotted paying tribute to the red, black and white.

Add the fact the Blackhawks are an Original Six franchise to the team's recent success and it's resulted in plenty of national exposure -- Chicago hosted the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field against archrival Detroit, and in a matter of weeks will open the season against Florida in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere.

"I think it's good for our team and good for our organization," Toews said of the increased exposure. "You saw a lot of years where no one really talked about the Hawks and we weren't a factor. Not only our team but our organization didn't earn a lot of respect across the League, and I think that's changed now.

"We're getting more of those national TV games, more exposure all around. I think hockey fans all over are really starting to enjoy watching our team play and definitely converting a lot of people in my hometown (Winnipeg), even in Canada, to Hawks fans as well."

Of course, with added exposure comes added scrutiny. If the Blackhawks took anyone by surprise last season, they can be sure that won't happen again in 2009-10. Opponents will be affording the Blackhawks the respect they deserve, and Toews is well aware that taking the next step toward a Stanley Cup will be difficult.

When asked about his goals for the season, Toews tried to keep it simple, but it was clear the five-game elimination by the Red Wings in the conference finals is still fresh in his memory.

"Again, just to progress and get better as a team and as a player all year," he said. "It's a long season, but all we can really think about is the playoffs. We've got to keep that in the back of our minds for a long time and just keep taking steps to get better as a team and find a way to get back there."



Search Archive »




Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
200
0

Browse by Month »

September 2014
August 2014
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