Hawk Talk: So this is where the captain calls home

Hawk Talk: So this is where the captain calls home

Saturday, July 10, 2010
11:34 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The story goes Jonathan Toews was gven his first pair of ice skates at age 3, and by age 4, he was putting them to use in a nearby lake - his first strides towards eventual Olympic Gold and the silver of Stanley's Cup 18 years later.

This Manitoba metropolis that emerges out of miles of flat grids of surrounding farmland has turned to the Blackhawks' captain as someone to cling to after losing its NHL franchise here 14 years ago. There may not be two million people at Sunday's parade here, but if the weather holds up, I'm told there could be more than 25,000 people lining the mile-plus route that finishes up at Dakota Community Center, where the native son cut his organized hockey teeth in the St.Vital neighborhood where he grew up. And not just people from this city among the masses, but many who'll get up early, drive a hundred miles or so, and pay tribute during 19's day with the Cup. It comes from Patrick Sharp's day in Thunder Bay Sunday, before it's off to British Columbia later in the week for Brouwer, Seabrook, and Keith.

This parade comes exactly one month after the one in Chicago. Before we hop on a bus for the ride, he'll officially be given his own lake named after him in the northern area of the province, and receive a special presentation at City Hall from Mayor Sam Katz.

A local columnist calls him "The Anti-Lebron." Let's hope Toews' situation never comes to that type of decision needing to be made (the last thing we need to hear as Stan Bowman tries to work the roster and the dollars available now like a wad of Silly Putty). But for a town that has to cheer on the Moose and Blue Bombers as their only major professional entries, it's no wonder Toews's return here for an exhibition September 22nd against Tampa Bay is already virtually sold-out.

For a town that once stole Bobby Hull away from the Hawks, Chicago appreciates the gift back, but will only let them borrow him for awhile this off-season. The Conn Smythe winner's back where his roots are.

Check back here on Sunday for updates on the Toews festvities as we join Jonathan and his family aboard the parade bus, plus more on SportsNite, at 6:30, 10 and midnight

Eric Semborski gets his own hockey card as Blackhawks' emergency goalie

Eric Semborski gets his own hockey card as Blackhawks' emergency goalie

Eric Semborski lived out his childhood dream by calling himself a National Hockey League goaltender for one day, and he will never forget it.

Now there's proof nobody will.

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Topps revealed Wednesday that it has produced a trading card for the 23-year-old after he signed a one-day contract on an amateur tryout basis to serve as the emergency backup goaltender for the Blackhawks in Saturday's contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

While he didn't see any action, Semborski said after the game that absorbing shots during warmups from some of the best players in the league was “the best 20 minutes of my life.”

Add this to the memory bank of a story that keeps getting better.

Jonathan Toews donates $1 million to community center in Winnipeg

Jonathan Toews donates $1 million to community center in Winnipeg

Jonathan Toews was the highest paid player in the NHL this past year, and he's giving back to the community that helped him become one of the best players in the league.

The Blackhawks captain donated $1 million to the Dakota Community Centre in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised, making it the largest ever private donation to a community centre in Manitoba.

“From my earliest days playing hockey, Dakota Community Centre has always played a pivotal role in my upbringing and my career," Toews said in a statement. “Today, I continue to be honoured to have my name associated with the Sportsplex on the Dakota campus. My parents have instilled in me the importance of giving back, and I believe that in supporting Dakota, we will see endless possibilities for the Community Centre’s future and transformation in the lives of our community members.”

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Toews will also serve as the honorary chairman for the Dakota Futures Capital Campaign, which will support the construction of a new 60,000-square-foot, $20-million fieldhouse and future development of the campus.

The fieldhouse will include a 30,000-square-foot gymnasium that will contain multiple court sports, such as basketball and volleyball, sport training and conditioning, all of which will be connected to the Jonathan Toews Sportsplex. It's expected to open in the fall of 2017.

The Sportsplex was named in Toews' honor in 2010, and includes two indoor ice rinks, a gymnasium, and strength training facilities, among others.

“We are so proud that Jonathan has chosen to give back to the community in this way," said Toews' parents Andrée Gilbert and Bryan Toews. "Our family has such fond memories of hockey practices and friendships made at the Dakota Community Centre. We look forward to the opening of the new Fieldhouse and the continued growth of the Dakota  campus. Through programs for all ages and acting as a gathering place in our community, the Dakota Community Centre transforms thousands of lives each year."