‘C’ worthy: Jonathan Toews is playoff leader for Blackhawks
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org April 29, 2013 10:27PM
Chicago Blackhawks Headshots
Updated: June 1, 2013 6:34AM
Jonathan Toews is soft-spoken, with a humble heart and stoic manner. But he still knows he’s Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks’ captain embraces his inherent leadership role, a responsibility built upon a history of coming through when his teammates need him the most. He knows his team is counting on him.
‘‘I always have,’’ Toews said after practice Monday at the United Center. ‘‘That’s what’s exciting about being one of those guys and being a captain. That’s the type of responsibility you want. It’s something you take pride in.’’
Toews has a knack for making a difference. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. He scored the game-tying, short-handed goal with 1:56 left in Game 7 of the quarterfinals against Vancouver in 2011 that gave the Hawks a chance for a historic comeback. And when he was coming off a concussion heading into the playoffs last season, the Hawks lost three overtime games in a quarterfinal loss to the Phoenix Coyotes — though Toews’ overtime goal in Game 5 kept the Hawks alive.
The ‘‘C’’ on his sweater looms larger in the playoffs. And he knows it.
‘‘I understand that my play sometimes might reflect that [responsibility] and considering that, I want to be at the top of my game,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I want to get the guys going and I know everyone else is fired up and ready to go as well.’’
Toews tied Patrick Kane for the team lead in goals (23) and was second in points (55) with a team-leading plus-28, which ranked third in the NHL. Arguably the best two-way player in the league, Toews has an instinct for the moment that is invaluable in the playoffs.
‘‘That void [without him last season] was something [that] when you get him back you really appreciate what he brings to the team,’’ Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘He’s been, game-in and game-out, on his game. He’s so useful and versatile and effective in all arenas and all situations. People mention him as a Hart Trophy [candidate] and that’s what he brings.’’
Though he is not a vocal leader, Toews will take a punch or a penalty or speak up when the situation warrants.
‘‘There are times during the regular season when you think you need to say things and do things to try and spark your team. That’s part of your role, your responsibility as a leader,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I think that’s even more true in the playoffs. That’s part of my job that I take very seriously.’’