Jonathan Toews takes as much pride in his defensive game as anything he does on the ice. On Wednesday, he was recognized for it.
The Chicago Blackhawks captain was named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the league’s top defensive forward, on Wednesday morning. Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who the Blackhawks face tonight in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series, was also named a finalist. The Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron completes the finalists.
For Toews, it’s an honor, although the focus remains on tonight’s game and not the trophy. He also said the recognition is for the team as much as it is him.
“Obviously it’s not the focus right now. But along with (Brandon Saad) and some other guys in this room that probably deserve some recognition as well, it reflects how we did as a team this year,” Toews said. “Obviously you need a good group of guys behind you to be in that position. It’s a nice feeling though.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said, “I thought he had an outstanding year, and you could mention him in the Hart and Selke (trophy talk). The consistency of his game, the number of chances he was on for and against, puck possession, playing against top lines, he welcomes the challenge every game. He’s very deserving; he did a great job in that area.”
Teammates were complimentary on Toews’ recognition, the second time he’s been a finalist for the award.
“It’s a great accomplishment to be nominated and he has a great chance to win this year,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “He’s tough to play against, and we’re glad he’s on our team, for sure.”
Toews finished the regular season with 23 goals, tied for the team high with Patrick Kane. He also finished with a career-best plus-28 rating. Toews takes pride in the defensive side of his game, and it showed again this season.
“It’s been part of my game to be solid on both ends of the rink. I keep trying to play that way,” he said. “Obviously I’d like to keep that going in the playoffs.”
Mike Babcock, who’s coached all three Selke finalists at some point, commended Toews for his work.
“It’s how tough he is mentally, what a great person he is: that’s what makes him the conscience of that team, the captain he is and the person he is,” Babcock said. “He does things right and knows how to play. I like him a lot. His determination and will are much like (Henrik) Zetterberg and Datsyuk.”