WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jonathan Toews probably started twitching with anticipation as Friday neared, his preseason game schedule beginning after being held out for precautionary reasons the first two games.
“I had to almost beg my way to get into this one,” Toews said prior to the Blackhawks’ game against the Washington Capitals on Friday. “It’s getting to that point where I want to feel like I’m game ready.”
Rest was more critical the past few days, however, as Toews was working through a “nagging” hip-flexor injury. With that gone now, Toews is focused on getting up to speed and getting ready for what could be another long season.
But before getting ready for this season, Toews decompressed from the last one. He always steps away from the game for a bit, but he did so for even longer this summer. The main reason for the longer break was to rest and relax after a lockout-shortened, yet still grueling, regular- and postseason. The other reason was to just let hockey go for a bit, so the drive to play again would return with that much more fervor.
“That’s part of the whole process that I went through that I thought was necessary to be hungry to play: get off the ice, get away from it and really miss it,” he said. “The summer was crazy busy but I definitely made sure to have some quiet, relaxing time when you’re not thinking about that sort of thing. When training camp comes around, you have the mental and emotional commitment to play well.”
Winning two Cups in the past four seasons was great. So was winning the Selke Trophy for the league’s top defensive forward. So what’s next? As a team, the Blackhawks have been built to potentially win a few more Cups. As an individual, Toews has a few goals, but not surprisingly, they’re ultimately geared toward the good of the team.
“You always want to get better,” he said. “You want to be better with how you contribute to your team. That’s what I’m focused on. Again, I think compared to the last time we came off a short offseason, you just have those little things you can do better and improve and help your team better, and not go through the same thing as a team. Obviously I want to produce more and more. I’m capable of doing that as my career goes along. I want to get into some of these games so I can have a great start to the year.”