Toews a motivator, but shouldn't have to be


Toews a motivator, but shouldn't have to be

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011Posted: 7:50 PM

By Tracey Myers

When the Blackhawks entered the first intermission down 2-0 in St. Louis on Monday, Jonathan Toews did what any good captain should. He made some noise. He barked, he pointed some things out and probably used a few choice words in the process.

Maybe I got after the boys a little too much but we saw how the guys responded to it, Toews said after the Blackhawks rallied to a 5-3 victory. Thats whats frustrating. We say what we have to do before the game and then we play that way the first 20 minutes. That was unacceptable.

Thats great that Toews talk can move the Blackhawks to Mondays outcome. Motivating is his job, or at least the inside-the-locker-room part of it. But at this point of the season, with whats at stake, he shouldnt have to.

The Blackhawks finally found their urgency in the second period on Monday, 20 minutes after they shouldve had it. They fought back. They scored in bunches. They got points from 10 different players. And most importantly, they won. Once again, the get-them-going onus fell on their captain.

The 22-year-old shoulders the weight well. Given his start-to-finish work ethic in games, combined with that C he wears on his sweater, Toews is the perfect candidate to throw a few verbal daggers at his underperforming teammates.

But the Blackhawks should start listening at games start, not 20 or more minutes into it. And they shouldnt have to look to their captain at intermission for vocal inspiration. If they want motivation, all they have to do is look at the standings. They should make a copy of them, tack them to the board prior to every game and circle their position with a big red Sharpie (pen, not Patrick). Eleventh. Entering Tuesday nights games, the defending Stanley Cup champions are 11th in the West.

Now with a couple more victories, the Blackhawks could move from outer edge of the playoffs to right in the middle of the pack again. Yes, welcome to the ridiculous Western Conference. Theres more motivation. So was that come-from-behind victory in St. Louis on Monday. From the second period on it was great hockey. The Blackhawks pushed the pace, got all their lines involved and took advantage of Blues miscues.

Toews said Monday that the leaders in this locker room held the rest of the team accountable. Hopefully that means he wasnt the only guy talking during the first period. There are a few remaining in that room that went to the pinnacle, know what it takes to get there and wants to stoke the fire in others, too.

Theyve got 22 games remaining to conjure up that consistent hockey that was so much a part of them last season and has been so absent this one. Theyve shown at times. Now they have to put it together in a good, solid string. Theyve got it in them.

But from here on out, the Blackhawks shouldnt need Toews to make a mid-game motivational speech off the ice. They should just follow his lead from the start on it.

Tracey Myers is's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

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It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below:

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

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“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.