Monday, June 22, 2015

Captain Serious Is Seriously Someone To Respect...

He's only 27 years old and already Jonathan Toews has collected 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Gold Medals, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy and 1 Frank J. Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward in the league.  Not a bad resume for a full career, but he's far from finished.

The Blackhawks hit the jackpot in back to back drafts, building toward what we are seeing today.  In the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, then GM Dale Tallon selected Toews with the 3rd overall pick.  The kid out of North Dakota made an immediate impact on the Hawks.   Toews played 64 games, scoring 24 goals recording 34 assists.  The next season, with the first overall pick, the Blackhawks nabbed Patrick Kane, and as they say the rest is history.

The organization showed its' faith in the young player, by naming him the 34th captain in team history in July of 2008. The decision by then coach Denis Savard and then GM Dale Tallon, made Toews the third youngest captain in NHL history.  "There's an aura about him," Tallon said. "He has leadership ability naturally.  It's not something he needs to work hard at.  He just is that kind of kid. We felt we might as well move forward with it and let him grow at that position."  Savard added, "It's a natural fit.  Personally, when I sit down with the staff and my coaches, I know that I've got my mind made up.  I don't care how young you are. He's the type of person that is going to be a great captain for us."  Looking back, wow, what an understatement.

Toews himself that July day nearly 7 years ago, didn't seem overwhelmed by the promotion.  "When people consider you for so much responsibility at such an age, it's awesome," said Toews. "I enjoy the game. It's my life, and it's my passion.  I do take it very seriously, and maybe that's one of the things that rubs off on the other guys."  Thus the birth of Captain Serious.  But have any truer words been uttered by a 20 year old?

The last part of his quote is what amazes me as a fan and as someone who was around Toews for a brief period in 2014.  How does this guy, command so much respect, from not only younger players, but from established veterans and coaches?  To me it's a presence that he has.  Not a rah rah guy by any means, but as he said, Toews has a passion for this game.  He does live it. Why not, he's really good at it.

The other thing about Toews, he gets it. After winning the first of his 3 Stanley Cup's, he hoisted the trophy, then passed it to Marian Hossa who had missed out on winning the cup the two previous years.  In 2013 after hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup, veteran Michal Handzus was next to receive it.  Finally, after the third cup, Toews passed it to Kimmo Timonen the 16 year veteran, who was playing his last ever NHL game.  Aretha Franklin spelled it out, Toews has a genuine R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the game and those who play it.  Maybe that has something to do with the way he is looked at by those he leads.

There are many in the game that respect the 27 year old center.  Included among them, a guy that wore the #19 prominently for the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman, who happens to be the Tampa Bay Lightning GM.  Yzerman thinks Toews is a better player than he ever was.  "Just a better hockey player," said the Hall of Fame player. "The reality is Jonathan's bigger, stronger - better.  I'm not sure I could even take him in a race either, so he's probably faster [too]."  Toews responded in a fashion you'd expect, "Steve is a very complimentary person, and I don't think he'd say anything less than that," Toews said.  "I just take that with a grain of salt.  I think everyone here knows that's pretty much untrue, but it obviously means a lot to hear any sort of praise from a guy like that."

Chicago, feel fortunate that this guy and his running mate Kane are a part of your hockey team. With the surrounding cast in doubt now, because of another ridiculously low salary cap, these guys will make sure the Blackhawks stay competitive. He may not like the monicker of "Captain Serious", but Hawks fans are seriously glad he's here.

Spieth halfway to the season Grand Slam

Masters and US Open Champion Jordan Spieth is halfway to the season grand slam in golf.  He won the US Open after Dustin Johnson 3-putt the 18th hole.  The 21-year old Spieth is the youngest US Open champion since 1923, and the youngest ever to win both the Masters and Open in the same year.  He's in some pretty exclusive company, joining the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer having won both majors in the same season.

Now with the British Open up next, could he possibly win his third major of the season?  Don't bet against him.

By the way, was it just me in thinking the course at Chambers Bay looked like a British Open course? Dry grass in the fairways, huge rough and some almost unfair greens made it look that way to me. Several of the pros complained about the greens, but after all this is a US Open, and it's not supposed to be easy.

*Quotes in Jonathan Toews entry from Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2008, written by Chris Kuc 

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