Editorials

Has Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews Passed his Prime?

By Jeffrey Franklin
Feb 6, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeat the Stars 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeat the Stars 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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The last time Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews had a superstar season was in 2015. It’s no coincidence that was the last time the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup let alone make it out of the first round. Is it fair to wonder if Toews will ever again be the superstar caliber player he once was? If not what will that mean for the Blackhawks near-future.

It’s easy to forget that in 2015 Patrick Kane was already beginning his meteoric rise from superstar to being in the discussion for the title of Best Player in the World.  He was leading the league in points, and was arguably the front-runner for Hart Memorial Trophy for MVP, but as we know his season was cut short by an untimely injury. At first there was panic among Chicago Blackhawks fans, but it quickly subsided as the timetable for Kane’s return had him ready to go for the playoffs.

Even with Kane’s injury, however, the team wasn’t lost without him. Jonathan Toews was more than capable of picking up the slack in those days and that’s what he did. With the help of a few reinforcements in the likes of Antoinne Vermette and Kimmo Timonen the Blackhawks didn’t miss a beat without him, and his injury was arguably more of a gift than a blessing by opening up much-needed cap space for the playoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks

As I’m sure you know the Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, but had you put the Jonathon Toews we’ve seen these past two years on that team, I’m not sure we would have. Toews’ basic offensive numbers haven’t dropped off a whole lot these past two seasons (58 points each) as he’s always been a 50-70 point scorer, but there is something about his presence that seems missing. Asides from that stretch in February this past season Toews was anything but a game-changer.

Toews was always let off the hook and justifiably so because it was said his offense to a hit because his defense was so sound, as evidenced by his 2013 Selke winning season for best two-way forward, but these past two season while he hasn’t been a liability he hasn’t been the same. His Corsi in all situations prior to the 2015-16 season was always in the high 50s or 60s, but the past two seasons he’s had career lows with two 53 percent seasons. It’s clear he just hasn’t been the same player on both ends of the ice. If the narrative were true that Toews would score more had he not played as tough of defense then his points should be well over the 58 he scored this year.

Since Kane and Toews broke into the league together in 2007 it has always been exactly that Kane and Toews, and the reason I brought up the 2015 season in-depth is because that was the last season where it truly was the Kane and Toews show. Now it’s seemingly just the Kane show and his nickname Showtime is more than fitting.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks’ Artemi Panarin: 3 Reasons To Trade Him

The Chicago Blackhawks front office is doing all it can to stave off a full on rebuild, but if they want to keep the clout of irrelevancy from engulfing them like it has the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Redwings other pseudo-dynastic teams torn apart by cap constraints, they need to find a way to get Toews going again. Because without the Captain leading the charge the Blackhawks halcyon era is over already.

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