Blackhawks Bytes: Hear From Toews, Keith, Jones & More

This is the beginning of a series that will feature quotes and comments from players, coaches, management, journalists and fans alike concerning everything Chicago Blackhawks. The purpose of this ongoing column is to capture a slice of the existing outlook, attitudes and culture surrounding the team throughout the 2021-22 season. Please join me as we have some fun with the everyday, albeit fascinating aspect of human nature; the power of words. Let’s begin with some quotable quotes from the 2020-21 offseason.

Toews’ Introspection

On Jun. 30, 2021, Blackhawks’ long-time captain Jonathan Toews finally broke his silence about the mysterious illness that kept him sidelined throughout the 2020-21 season. He said he’s suffering from Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. His body finally fought back after all the stress he put it through over the years, coupled with a bout of COVID-19 in Feb. 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, Toews expanded on his time away, saying it was one of the hardest times of his life. Many days it was hard to get out of bed. The uncertainty about what was wrong with him, and when he would get better put him in a very low place. But leave it to Toews to bring his innate positivity to what can only be described as a crappy situation. As he stated,

I guess sometimes you have to kind of go through the s*** to come out better on the other side.

(From ‘Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews opens up about the longest year of his life: ‘The best worst thing that’s ever happened to me’, The AthleticCHI – 6/30/2021)

To me, this is appropriate for all of us after this past year and a half. We’ve dealt with the incredible shock and uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic. We’ve essentially given up over a year of our lives as we’ve tried to navigate sheltering in place, boredom, fear, depression, sickness and death. I don’t think anyone can say their world wasn’t turned upside down in one way or another because of COVID-19.

Related – How Toews’ Return Will Impact the Blackhawks

But things are finally starting to look up. Vaccines were manufactured at an unprecedented rate. We’re now able to function relatively normally without fearing for our lives. And the whole experience has forced us to look inside of ourselves as well as outside of ourselves. Hopefully we’ve become better people individually, and as a society.  

Just like Toews, we all had to go through the s*** to come out better on the other side.

Keith Keeps on Going

While it was fantastic to hear of Toews’ planned return for the 2021-22 season, Blackhawks’ fans were dealt a huge blow a few weeks later when the legendary Duncan Keith was traded to the Edmonton Oilers. Yes, the 16-year veteran who won three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies, and the Conn Smythe all with the Blackhawks. The backbone of the blue line.

Duncan Keith will be a member of the Edmonton Oilers for the 2021-22 season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ah, the memories. In the 2010 playoff run, Keith lost seven teeth and still only missed a few shifts. Remember the “Chicago runs on Duncan” slogan? Keith was the cyborg and physical specimen who played a ridiculous amount of minutes night in and night out, year in and year out. “No human can withstand those many hits!” Yeah, whatever Ryan Kesler.  

But now the 38-year-old blueliner will attempt to make a few more lasting memories with his new team. That’s right, Keith is the ripe old age of 38. Many Oilers’ fans are wondering what the heck they’re going to get from this man who is no spring chicken anymore. Well, Keith himself addressed that situation.  

Ha, that’s the Keith we know and love! Sure, Father Time has caught up with him just like it does with everyone. But our beloved blueliner still has plenty of tread left in those tires; enough to make a positive impact in Edmonton. Only time will tell how it turns out, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against him!

Brotherly Love

The weekend of the NHL Draft on Jul. 23 and 24 was a busy one for the Blackhawks. Right before the draft started Friday night, Chicago made the blockbuster deal to acquire defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team had traded for his younger brother, Caleb Jones, as part of the Keith trade earlier in July. Then the Blackhawks selected Colton Dach, Kirby Dach’s younger brother, as the 62nd overall pick in Round 2 on Saturday. Just like that, Chicago had a pair of brothers with the Blackhawks.

The Jones’s

Seth and Caleb came to Chicago for their introductory press conference on Chicago’s First Lady tour boat the same weekend as the draft. The also took in a Cubs game, and of course threw out the first pitch. Below are some noteworthy quotes from both of the brothers.

From Seth:

I just want to prove every single night that I’m going to work hard for this team, no matter if I make a mistake or not. But more times than not, I’m hoping to be successful in the plays I make and the consistency I bring, the leadership I bring, every night.

(from ’12 thoughts on Seth Jones, the Blackhawks’ draft and a pivotal weekend in team history’, The AthleticCHI – 7/24/21)

The 26-year-old has a lot of pressure put on him because of this huge contract and long term. Time will tell whether he can live up to it. But he certainly has the right attitude!

And what about Caleb?! He’s lost in the shuffle a bit compared to his older brother. But he’s actually competing for a spot with other defensive prospects such as Riley Stillman, Wyatt Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin. He claims general manager Stan Bowman gave him some words of confidence when he signed on.

I’ve actually played more games than a lot of the younger guys they have, so he (Bowman) thinks I can bring a bit more experience. I’ve got close to 100 games (93, to be exact). I’m just going to come in and compete and put my best foot forward and see what happens opening night.

Well, there’s definitely nothing wrong with some competition. It pushes everyone to be better. Let’s see where it takes them.

The Dach’s

Meanwhile, Colton and Kirby were celebrating Colton being drafted by the same team as his big brother. They were certainly excited about their good fortune.

But after the shenanigans were over, Colton got serious in his press conference about what he can bring to the table along with Kirby. He discussed each of their playing styles.

We’d be one of the perfect fits. He likes to move the puck and he’s a very skilled forward. I like to get into areas where I can receive the puck and shoot the puck. I think we’d really complement each other well.

Are you listening to this, head coach Jeremy Colliton? Now Colton is still just 18 years old, and he might not make it to the NHL as soon as his brother was. But when the two brothers are on the team together, it would behoove the Blackhawks to try them on the same line. Heck, they could potentially be the next Henrik and Daniel Sedin brothers in the making!

Related – Blackhawks Banter: Fleury’s Future, Suter’s Departure & Favorite Moves

Above is insight on just the beginning of a very exciting offseason for the Blackhawks. Shucks, this article doesn’t touch on the first week of free agency yet! Stay tuned for more quotable quotes from newcomers Tyler Johnson, Jake McCabe, Marc-Andre Fleury and more!


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