Hawks Find Leadership in Youngster Toews

By Paul M. Banks

When the Chicago Blackhawks named 20 year old center Jonathan Toews their team captain last off-season, he became the youngest guy in the NHL (third youngest in league history) to wear the capital “C” on his jersey.

With this honor came the responsibility of taking accountability to the media grilling after games, including the tough losses when no players feel like talking. Toews has a captaincy style similar to White Sox leader Paul Konerko: serious, soft-spoken and always ready to analyze and discuss the state of his team.

When the Hawks encountered their last rough patch, Toews spoke candidly about it:

“We know there’s going to be tough stretches during the schedule. At the end of the day there’s always going to be little things nagging at you: injuries, fatigue whatever it is, but those excuses don’t matter. Everyone knows we’re a young team, but we showed what kind of a team we are in December and we want to keep going down that path and getting better,” Toews said following a recent disappointing home loss to St. Louis.

Recently Toews has talked a lot with his game. With 6 points in the last 5 games (including the Hawks’ only hat trick this season on February 27th) Toews is getting hot down the stretch. With star forward Patrick Sharp away from the ice on injured reserve, Toews is now the leading goal scorer on the Western Conference’s fourth seeded team. In just his second season, the 3rd overall pick of the 2006 NHL draft is far from the most tenured player on the team. However, it’s Toews, not one of the older veterans in the Hawks locker room, who puts the ups-and-downs of the 80 game grind in perspective.

“It’s a long season, we’re not going to make excuses, even the best teams have their rough spots, we just got to learn to battle through and not accept that. We got enough character and will in this room to be a successful team and the success we had early on- we know that’s not good enough. We’re not satisfied,” Toews said describing the big picture.