Interview with Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews

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Jonathan Toews: Struggles On and Off Ice, Personal Compete Level, Being a Blackhawk, More

Chicago Blackhawks

Last week, Jonathan Toews sat down for a lengthy interview (embedded below) with the folks at NBC Sports Chicago. The interview touched on few key subjects, from his personal compete level to the team’s struggles. He also touched on the looming conversation between his agent, Pat Brisson, and Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. You know, the one about his (and another Brisson client, Patrick Kane‘s) future.

NBC Sports Chicago sat down with Kane for a similar conversation last week. But this interview has a different look and feel from the captain. We’re so used to these pieces featuring Toews in a suit and tie, buttoned up as the formal representative of the franchise. Here, he’s in a Pink Floyd t-shirt with a smile and appearing comfortable with himself and his station in the game.

We’ll start with the conversation with GMKD about his future. Toews has maintained that he loves playing for head coach Luke Richardson and appreciates the openness and transparency he has received from the front office. He reiterated that in this interview.

Kyle’s been nothing but respectful this entire time. A guy in my position, I understand he has a job to do and he’s really investing in the future of this franchise and rightfully so in a lot of respects.

For myself, it’s just kind of a tricky situation, the last year of my contract and I haven’t played my best hockey in some time, so I’m not sure what the opportunities or what’s going to come knocking. But there’s no doubt in my mind, again, I’m focusing on my game, trying to improve that every single day and trying to enjoy just playing the game, being a Blackhawk as long as I can, for however long that is and while it still lasts.

I put one of the statements in here that stands out to me in bold. Last week Kane said he would love to play with Lukas Reichel “in the future.” Here, again, Toews is alluding to not necessarily being done with the Blackhawks chapter of his life/career.

He and Kane have both used phrases like “however long that is” when referencing their Blackhawks’ days. Which leads us to decisions three people need to make. Kane and Toews, by virtue of their full no-move clauses, have full control of any trade conversations that might take place. But the third person who needs to make a decision is Davidson. Is the leadership Toews and Kane provide valuable enough that bringing either/both of them back when they’re UFAs this summer make sense? Is their production on the ice enough that they can help the team on the ice as much as they do off the ice?

Toews alluded to his thoughts on staying here again when asked a question that Kane was asked about him. The two have been tied together from their arrival to today. But are the two considering the other’s future decision(s) when thinking about their own trade/free agency journey? The Captain didn’t speak about what Kane might do, but did offer this on his own behalf:

[For] myself, it’s still a difficult question to answer cause there’s a part of myself that still doesn’t really want to admit the situation and also wants to continue being a Blackhawk and finish my career here. But at the same time, there’s a part of me that sees the writing on the wall and sees that this team, this organization is trying to hit the reset button and that maybe a change for everybody is not such a bad thing, and that goes for myself as well.

He wants to finish his career here but also acknowledges what’s best for the organization. Does that mean he’ll definitely leave? Or could Davidson, to my point earlier, approach Toews about staying the captain for a few years until the next generation is ready to assume the mantle?

Like Kane, Toews was also asked about how hard this season has been mentally for him. Unlike Kane, Toews has come back from a long health journey over the past few years to be — at least to some — close to the player he was before COVID. He leads the league in faceoffs and is playing at a 25-goal pace again. But the health issues gave Toews some perspective when considering his personal performance and the losing the team has been fighting this season.

For myself personally, these last few years have been pretty challenging. You always have a standard in your mind of goals you’ve set for yourself that you put your mind to and you work towards, and obviously there’s a lot of unpredictable things in the game of hockey. It’s a team game ultimately. As long as the team is winning, sometimes those goals don’t matter as much.

But these last few years, it’s been a real learning experience to not necessarily to dial back my expectations but sometimes things happen where you just really need to focus on what’s right in front of you and not look at the big picture too much because sometimes that could feel overwhelming, so a lot of challenges personally and as a team and as an organization that were difficult but it definitely helps to put everything into perspective.

That learning experience that Toews talks about here leads to his answer to a question about how he feels about his personal performance this year. Does Toews feel like he’s been able to get back to the high level he expects himself to play at this year?

Yeah, I’d say I’m closer. It wasn’t hard to move past that. I definitely still have that feeling that it’s not too much to ask out of myself to get back to that level again with what I know, with what I’ve learned about myself and the game and how to take care of my body and how to prepare and how to play the game. Obviously the game is a lot faster and it’s improved, I would say, but at the same time, I feel like a lot of things for me have gotten better, it’s just getting to a place where my body cooperates and things kind of fall into place, so still working towards that at this point.

You can watch the entire video below or read the transcript here. And, again, like the Kane interview this is a personal reflection from an all-time great Chicago Blackhawks player — the longest tenured captain in franchise history. No matter what happens with Toews in the coming weeks, months or years, he will always be Captain Serious, the youngest ever member of the Triple Gold Club and no Blackhawk will ever wear 19 again. We’ve been blessed to have him as the captain of the Blackhawks.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab