Jonathan Toews was only taking so much credit for his Frank J. Selke Trophy victory, preferring to spread the credit around to 20-plus other guys.
“It’s something you definitely owe to your teammates because they helped you get there in the first place,” he said on Saturday morning. “And no chance I’m recognized for an award like that if I’m not in the middle of a great team like this.”
Perhaps, but the Chicago Blackhawks captain might want to save a good chunk of that credit for himself. Because when you play an all-around game like he does, you get recognized on your own merit.
Toews may not be doing what he wants offensively in these playoffs but his defensive game has remained strong through the regular- and postseason. Toews, who was also a Selke finalist in 2011-– Ryan Kesler won it –- said he’s worked on his well-rounded game since his days at Shattuck St. Mary’s. It’s something he’s proud of, and the Blackhawks appreciate.
“He does a lot for our team in a lot of different ways,” Patrick Kane said. “I think he kind of fits that Selke player perfect with the faceoffs and penalty kill and plus-minus and things like that. He's very accountable in that area, and very deserving for him."
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Toews can sometimes fall into the same category as Marian Hossa -– looked at as a very strong offensive player who does pretty damn good on the defensive side, too. But when an offensive player struggles to score, the defensive side of his game may not get the attention it deserves– well, outside of the Blackhawks room, anyway.
“I thought he had a real solid year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You look offensively what his production like. But defensively we always keep scoring chances for and against, and he had one of those years that the numbers jumped off the charts. He was playing against top lines and top D, shift in and shift out, and it says a lot. His awareness on both sides of the puck makes him the player he is. (The award) was well earned, well deserved."
And as far as respect, the Blackhawks had plenty for Toews, regardless of whether or not he’s a strong defensive player.
“I don't think he has to worry about respect; he has it from everyone in this room,” Kane said. “You respect a player like that who leads not only off the ice but by example on the ice the way he plays. I guess that's the epitome of a leader when you're doing that. He's kind of the perfect mold for a leadership role and the Selke award too.”
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Toews would like nothing more to add some more goals to his postseason total, and another Stanley Cup to the hardware collection. His offense isn’t where he wants it to be right now. But his defensive play has never wavered. Toews said he got the Selke because of the guys around him. He might want to take a little more credit himself.
“There are so many great players around the league that can be recognized for that, not just around the league but in this locker room, too,” Toews said. “You see the reason we've gone so far in the playoffs; it's because of so many different guys. I really can't take the credit for winning that award. It's playing simple. It's always a surprise, a good feeling and a confidence boost. But you realize you have to have good support to be there."