Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had a lot to say this week about the rival Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup, his personal resurgence last season and his team’s focus heading into the 2019-20 season.
A few excerpts from his interview Thursday on “Waddle and Silvy,” an ESPN Chicago radio show:
“No, there was no part of me that was happy,” Toews said of the Blues going from last in the league to Cup winners. “To me, them tanking at the start of the year was a huge underachievement. I’m not ready to give them as much credit as everyone else was this year.
“It hurts to see St. Louis win the Cup, but I think that’s what gives you the hunger to go back there and be better.”
Aside from the divisional rivalry, Toews’ lack of enthusiasm could be attributed to the Blackhawks going 4-1 against the champs last season, with three of the wins coming after regulation.
Toews knows as well as anyone that missing the playoffs is unacceptable, especially for a storied Original Six franchise, so when he was asked about how he is approaching his offseason at age 31, he offered this perspective:
“Well, I would say it would probably be less intense and not as much of a workload, but we’ve missed the playoffs the last few years and I’d say I have been on the ice more than anything. It’s mid-July, the sun is out, it’s beautiful and I’m heading to the hockey rink. I think that focus is there.”
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Chicago has experienced a lot of success under the leadership of Toews and Patrick Kane; they helped the Blackhawks win the Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The two stars are still putting up big numbers, too —- Toews recorded a career-high 81 points last season and Kane had 110.
“I was definitely in a more offensive role [last season] – quite a bit of power-play time,” the 12-year veteran noted. “I think once we get our power play clicking, it seemed like even if you’re not having a great night, maybe the legs aren’t there, you’re still going to have a chance to produce and get on the board. So it’s nice to score those points. It keeps you motivated, it keeps you going and it keeps you hungry.”
As one of the squad’s elder statesmen, Toews brings not only leadership but playoff experience as well; however, he also knows what the Blackhawks’ young players can contribute next season. He’s hoping they’ll help send the franchise on another long Cup run.
“We need to give ourselves a chance for that experience to take over,” Toews said. “At the same time, we got some youth, we got some guys that are eager to prove themselves. Young guys and veterans alike, everyone wants to prove themselves in the postseason.
“That’s the best time to be playing. To get there is the No. 1 goal, and for us, that’s when the real season actually starts.”
Under Toews’ logic, the season never really started last year – or the year before that. His focus is on not allowing that trend to continue.
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