Playing outdoor hockey is nothing new for Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks captain has been doing it ever since he was a kid in Winnipeg.
“It was a special place,” Toews said. “Not too many young kids got to walk out the steps off the deck in their backyard and go to their backyard rink and even turn the lights on at night. My dad had all the set ups. It was pretty cool. That’s where I learned the game. That’s where you find the love for the game. It’s a huge reason for why I’m where I am today.”
Even when weather made it difficult to build, Toews’ dad would adjust and find ways to make the rink, whether it was how he fled the area or how he dealt with natural ice and snow.
On Saturday, the Blackhawks will host their second Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field. In 2009, the Red Wings came to Wrigley Field and beat the Blackhawks 6-4. Toews and his teammates are excited to play in front of a much larger crowd than they’ve ever experienced before.
“Wrigley Field was awesome,” Toews said. “At the time, it came with the development or revival, whatever you want to call it, of our franchise in Chicago. I think that was one of the first big steps we took before winning a Stanley Cup. For us to change the venue and freshen things up and have a chance to play at Soldier Field is really an amazing thing.”
The 25-year old captain will return home to Chicago after winning yet another gold medal for Team Canada, his second in his short professional career. The new gem will be added to his already decorated trophy case which includes a gold from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and two Stanley Cup rings from 2010 and 2013.
Toews has clearly made an impact on kids locally who have idolized the team’s captain. Toews knows it’s not as easy in the United States to pick up skates and go play hockey, but he says if a kid can do it, they should.
“Maybe in some places it’s not so simple where you need to have artificial indoor ice,” Toews said. “But if you have that opportunity, I think it’s an awesome game and a lot of fun.”