Jonathan Toews, born April 29,1988 in the St. Boniface-Winnipeg area to Bryan Toews and Andree Gilbert, seemed destined for the NHL at a very young age. His dad tied on his first pair of skates when he was only three and says he became an instant whiz on ice.
In a recent interview Bryan was quoted as saying: “Jonathan could see things you’d show him and then go right out there and do them much better than I’d describe them. I remember I had him on the lake when he was four. He had such a natural stride. I remember several parents coming up to me and asking, ‘How old is that kid?’”
To which Jonathan added: “It wasn’t that natural for me. I never was one of the biggest kids, but I kind of found myself thinking of ways in my mind to beat them,” he said. “I’d use my skating, my stickhandling, my wits to visualize ways to win.”
And win he did. When he was still a pup, the elder Toews built a backyard rink for Jonathan and his kid brother David so they could skate till they dropped. What others called hard work was fun for the Toews family. Dad skated right along with the boys as their skills grew and their talent developed.
The payoff came quickly. In his Bantam year Jonathan was drafted #1 by the Tri-City Americans but chose instead to play high school. In his last high school year he played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN (110 points in 64 games) and ended up spending the next two years at the University of North Dakota where he amassed 85 points in 76 games, had a plus-38 rating and led the Fighting Sioux to the Frozen Four in both 2006 and 2007.
Drafted third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2006 Entry Draft, he made the leap to the NHL in the fall of 2007 at age 18. Along with Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane, Toews was part of a new-blood youth movement that moved the 2008 Hawks into the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
In December of his second year (2008-2009) he was made an assistant captain and on July 18, 2009 was named captain at the ripe old age of 20, becoming the third youngest player to do so behind Vinnie Lecavalier and Sid Crosby. His nifty scoring touch and his heads-on style of play have made him a fan favorite. He was rewarded in December 2009 with a six-year contract extension worth about $6.5 million a year.
Toews competes internationally for Team Canada and has won gold medals at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge (leading scorer 8-4-12), 2006 and 2007 World Junior Championships, and at the 2007 Men’s World Championships. In the semi-final against the USA, he scored once in regular time and three times in the shootout to advance his team to the finals.
The year 2010 has been equally as kind to this powerful young player. In February he competed for Canada against the World in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, leading his team with eight points. His seven assists led the tournament while he tallied his only goal to open the scoring in the crucial Gold Medal game against the USA. At the end of the two weeks, sporting a shiny new Gold Medal, Jonathan was named Best Forward. Back in Vancouver in May for the NHL Western Conference semi-finals, in the pivotal fourth game, with three goals and two assists, he tied Stan Mikita’s longstanding Blackhawks record for most points (5) in a single game.
On his personal page on weplay.com, Toews sums up his advice to younger players in his typically mature way:
I don’t have a special quote, but more a philosophy or a belief: “You become what you think about and focus on the most. See yourself attracting the things you want to accomplish. Thoughts and desires in your mind can become a reality.”
Today he is living the dream.
Toews Videos: Jonathan Toews/weplay.com