2010-2011 Player Evaluation: Jonathan Toews
We now wrap up our player reviews (or at least the players that matter) with a look at the captain, Jonathan Toews. Perhaps only Duncan Keith had a better year than Marvel last year but that's pretty debateable. However, while his season wasn't spotless, Toews was able to avoid the pitfalls of the Stanley Cup Slump that so many Hawks found themselves stuck in. The Captain put up career high numbers, dominated play, carried the team to the playoffs by himself and hunted people for sport. Oh, and he's still probably going to get better...
#19 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 29, 1988
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Contract Status: Signed through 2015 at a $6.3M Cap Hit (dream on Winnipeg)
Positives: Well, damn near literally dragging your team across the finish line as they became a heavy bag of dead weight is a positive in my book. From mid-January to late-March, Toews showed us all just how much this game means to him as he scored 38 points in 27 games, leading us to exclaim, where there's a Toews, there's a way. It wasn't just a penchant for scoring "clutch" goals, though there were a few of them (he led the team with 8 game-winning goals). In a season where we saw more than just one or two star player take a step backwards or focus on some of the "prettier" aspects of the game, Toews took yet another firm step forward all around. 76 points is a new season high and doesn't need much explanation. His +25 rating is rather telling though. Only Brian Campbell had a higher rating for the season. No other forward besides Bolland was able to crack a double digit plus rating, even the ones that most often played with Toews. He was able to step up his defensive game as well and earn the first of hopefully many Selke nominations thanks to his 93 takeaways (2nd in the league... Dustin Byfuglien was third, for whatever that's worth). He continued to dominate at the dot as well, winning the most faceoffs of any player (though others had higher %'s). While Kane and Hossa have moments where they're burning as hot as the sun, Toews simply finds ways to just plow through everyone and dominate just as completely.
Negatives: There isn't much to really dislike about Toews game. One could find fault in the final stretch of the regular season where the Captain managed just two points in the final nine games. Is that something to really criticize or is that just a steam engine running out of fuel? Where I think you could find some fault in Toews is his lack of leadership.... wait... stop screaming your computer. Hear me out.
It's a small gripe, but it's there. Duncan Keith all but admitted he didn't give a shit, Kaner's patterns are well documented and throughout the beginning of the season and at various other points, the team simply looked lethargic. I know they're all grown men (supposedly) and they shouldn't need someone to remind them to care but there may have been moments where Toews needed to step up and maybe do a little bit extra. Toews strikes me as more of the "lead by example" model and his play certainly reflects that. But I think this team needed a kick in the ass more often and Toews should have been the one to provide it. While he may not like to make speeches, the team certainly will listen when he does. Case in point - the late February game against St. Louis. A pathetic first period found the Hawks down two goals and Toews lit into the team in the locker room. They responded with four goals in the second and the eight-game win streak was underway. Toews is still a young captain and despite everything, still has some things to learn. This may be one of them.
Defining Moment: When you absolutely needed him - he found ways to show up. No better example than this:
Outlook: Meh... trade him.
Final Grade: A-. Toews wasn't on all year, but no one ever is. He remains the soul of this team however and with him leading the way, there's little doubt we're in for good times.