Jonathan Toews probably played his final game with the Blackhawks on Thursday evening, and it was only suitable that he gave an adoring United Center crowd a single a lot more purpose and a single a lot more memory. He generally recognized a moment, and he generally gave fans almost everything he had, even when his fallible physique threatened a different function stoppage.
The Hawks have decided not to re-sign Toews, which means the future Hall of Famer will have to choose if he desires to finish his 15-year profession or preserve playing someplace else.
And us? The men and women who have watched him with admiration all these years? What are we supposed to do with ourselves? We do what we generally do when a superstar leaves the stage. We choose exactly where he sits in the pantheon of Chicago sports icons. We do this to steer clear of obtaining mushy.
The symbol ordinarily utilised for these types of discussions is Mount Rushmore. Due to the fact George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt have their faces carved into granite, it is now compulsory that there be a Mount Rushmore of something and almost everything – of sports, nation music, comedy, “Survivor,’’ weed smoking, zip codes and, I do not know, podiatry. I really feel obligated to ask if Mount Rushmore would make the reduce for the Mount Rushmore of mountains.
We in the media consistently use dynamite and jackhammers to generate a stony monument to Chicago sports stars and, let’s be truthful, to inflame fans. Nothing at all gets a specific variety of accurate believer worked up very like a debate more than the relative merits of, say, Gale Sayers and Bobby Hull.
I’d like to argue that Toews deserves his personal mountain, not since he’s unworthy of joining Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and Ernie Banks, and not since he’s greater than any one else in the annals of Chicago sports.
It is since he stands alone.
He’s singular. He does not match neatly in a discussion of greatness since, as good as he was with a stick in his hands, the hockey component does not capture almost everything about him. And if you are not speaking about Toews as an amalgam of qualities, you are missing his essence.
Patrick Kane, his superstar sidekick, is a a lot more skilled hockey player. There are a lot of Hawks fans who would place him on Chicago’s Mount Rushmore of athletes ahead of Toews. It would not be a undesirable vote.
But the Hawks produced a 20-year-old Toews their captain in 2008 for a explanation. They saw a drive in him that pulled teammates along, produced them greater than they may have been otherwise. The easiest point in the planet would have been for other players, specifically considerably older ones, to resent the “C’’ becoming stitched on the sweater of a person who wasn’t old adequate to drink alcohol legally. It is the ultimate reflection on him that they didn’t.
Toews was a lot like Jordan in his will to win, but there’s a distinction. Teammates followed Toews since they wanted to win and since they didn’t want to let him down. Teammates followed Jordan since they wanted to win and since they didn’t want to really feel his anger. Not specifically Captain Severe vs. Captain Queeg, but anything like that.
When the Hawks had been winning these 3 Stanley Cups in the 2010s, they had the capability to shift into a larger gear when they required to. A lot of that was Toews, who, for all his fastidiousness about generally undertaking issues the suitable way, knew that some months had been a lot more essential than other people.
There was generally a tug-of-war going on beneath the uniform. Every little thing about him spoke of a guy who didn’t like to speak, who would rather be hanging with his teammates than possessing to speak with the media. But dealing with reporters is component of becoming an NHL captain, and it wasn’t in Toews’ constitution to consistently shirk a duty. So speak he did, and effectively.
He never ever got in critical difficulty off the ice. He battled chronic immune response syndrome and, a lot more not too long ago, lengthy COVID. It would have been a challenging slog for any one but specifically for a person utilised to almost everything in life going suitable. He knowledgeable the higher of becoming the third general choose in the 2006 draft and the 2009-ten Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and the low of missing the 2020-21 season with the immune-method situation. He persevered.
All of it tends to make Toews one of a kind. Some would respond that he’s one of a kind like everyone else is one of a kind. But the mixture of physical capability, leadership, winning and possibly the curse of caring as well considerably suggests that he must have his personal location. Not that he would ever let on that he’s greater than any one. That would be un-Canadian and un-Toews.
A a single-space mountaintop with a view. Sounds about suitable.