Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has had a great career. With three Stanley Cup wins, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Selke Trophy and a few Olympic gold medals with Team Canada at the age of 29, you can consider him to be elite. However, with point production decreasing and a hefty contract, his legacy could be at stake.
Becoming the face of a generation can be bittersweet. One day, you’re looked at as the hero, the unbeatable god who can accomplish anything. But when one day, things don’t go your way and you’re unable to save the day, you’re criticized, beaten and battered by everyone around you. For Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, that’s been his story the past few years.
When the ’Hawks were at the peak of their dynasty, winning their third Stanley Cup of this era and becoming the first dynasty in the salary cap era, the sports spotlight was on them. More importantly, it was on their captain.
Toews struggling to stay afloat
Toews was coming off of the highest point in his career after the 2015 Cup run. He was looked at as the golden child in the NHL, maybe even Commissioner Gary Bettman’s baby, but the NHL world was frustrated with his success and couldn’t wait to kick him when he went down.
When the ’Hawks witnessed a stunning blow after the 2015 salary cap crunch, Toews was the one to suffer the most. He lost his vital winger in Brandon Saad in a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets, one that would let his teammate Patrick Kane thrive when Artemi Panarin came to town.
After the 2014-15 season, Toews just wasn’t the same. After only having 66 points during that year, Blackhawks fans were hoping Toews was en route to a heavy point run. With his career high being 76 points, it really couldn’t get any worse than that.
However, it did. Toews has managed to maintain 58 points in each of the past two seasons, leveling out his play from point producer to role player.
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We all know Toews isn’t Kane offensively. He isn’t the type of player to weave in and out of defensemen and dangle his way to the net to score a SportsCenter top 10 highlight reel goal. He’s a playmaker who will lift his team when he’s put to the test and will always be that guy.
Yeah, with a $10.5 million cap hit, you’d want him to be a 30-plus goal scorer every season. Toews knows that.
However, it’s his contract that makes this discussion worth so much notice. With such an elite contract, Toews should be breaking 80-plus points every season, and his legacy is struck with negativity because of that thought.
However, this doesn’t take away who Toews is and what he’s done. You can hate the talk of three Stanley Cup wins all you want, but he’s had a significant role. it’s impressive, but what has he done the past two years that’s been notable?
Toews has been missing the past two postseasons. With their early exit in last year’s first round versus the St. Louis Blues and their horrid sweep against the Nashville Predators last spring, Toews has had nothing to show.
One goal, seven assists and a minus-3 rating is what Toews had to offer as the Blackhawks frontman in the past two offseasons. That has definitely plagued his career, but he’s not all to blame for that.
This isn’t the NBA and most certainly isn’t a one-person game. However, during this trial of a season in 2017-18, Toews will need to break down his talent and play hockey to the best of his ability. Maybe even better than that.
To save his legacy, Toews will need to have a hot year. He can’t wait until the turn of the new year to turn up the heat. He’ll have to be hot out of the gates and ready to roll. Hopefully with Saad’s return that helps bring some familiarity and illuminates him past his opponents.
This is a do-or-die moment for Toews. No one likes to be the guy who did it way back when. True legends live in the now and achieve success wherever they go.
All legends face adversity, but it’s the ones who break through that adversity who make it as some of the best athletes of all time. As Toews is already in the NHL’s top 100, he’ll need to step up the plate to keep that title.