LCS Hockey: Born Again
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July 18, 2019
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Toews Conference Call Transcript

Q. The start you had this season along with the Blackhawks and you started hearing rumblings of sophomore slump, and you had to ask questions about when your next goal was if going to come and all that stuff. Was there a point when you started to get nervous? Was there something to it?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't think so. I didn't want to believe in that. I personally don't believe in the sophomore slump. I just believe it's a mental thing that a player goes through himself, and that sometimes maybe other people convince him that that's what he's going through.

But for me, I don't know. I had a slow start, I think. Maybe put a little too much pressure on my self and a lot of people maybe associated that with the captaincy, obviously I denied that.

It's not easy to come in as a second year player and expect, when everything's so exciting your first year, everything goes easy, and everything's smooth. You know, last year I got all the opportunities.

This year you just expect it to be the same thing, but really you've got to earn every little bit of success that you have. So I think that first little period was tough. So it's great to finally get through that.

Q. You look at, you know, you've got enough time to evaluate what it's like to be the captain of a team. What's been the biggest challenge so far this year as far as that goes?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't know, you know what. I don't think anybody, you know, any guy in the locker room expects anything extra out of me. I think I always say that we've got every guy in our locker room is a leader in their own way.

It's definitely not a task that I have to tackle by myself. I think we've got a good core group of young guys who can lead in their own way, and guys that help me out in that regard.

So I think obviously for the most part I just had to kind of worry about myself and my own game. As long as I'm focused and doing the things that make me the player that I am, I think that's kind of what helps me be a leader as well.

So I think it wasn't a matter of changing anything this year coming in. I think it was just making sure I was ready coming into training camp, ready to go and in good shape and ready to play my best hockey.

Like I said, it wasn't easy, but you come in and learn every day. So that's what I've done so far.

Q. One of your first games last year was against the Ottawa Senators. You scored the overtime winner in Ottawa, and they'll be visiting Chicago on Wednesday. Wondering what you maybe recall from scoring that overtime winner, you know. Pretty thrilling moment early in your NHL career?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I think that was actually a pretty big game, I think. Thinking back on the season, I think I had a good start in my first ten games, whatever it was, I had a point streak going there. So I think I started building confidence.

But I think it was in that game where I really started to feel comfortable and took my game to another level. Obviously, I think in December that's when my game was really starting to pick up and I was feeling good and feeling like I could really contribute every night at this level. Unfortunately, I think a couple of weeks later, just after Christmas, I got hurt. That's when things kind of took a turn for the worst.

I don't know, it was definitely a big game for me, so hopefully I can have the same type of performance this week against the Senators.

Q. You're going to be catching a Senators team with their big three guys, Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley starting to pick things up. First of all, what do you enjoy going against top line guys like that? What is the thrill for you, and sort of what is the approach for you in going against top guys like that?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, I think it's just easy motivation to take your game up a notch. I think it's fun to test yourself against players like that. I think it's a confidence builder just to tell yourself that you belong there and you can hang with those guys.

I think I get a taste for what that's like every time we play teams like Detroit where you're up against guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk this year. It's funny, it's definitely something that every shift you can't take a shift off against those guys. They're so relentless, and they key in on every mistake that you're going to make. So you've got to be ready for it.

So I think if I get a chance to play against that top line on Wednesday, I'm looking forward to it. I'll try to make the best of that opportunity.

Q. Coach Quenneville as been juggling lines lately. Who do you figure you'll be lining up with against the Senators?

JONATHAN TOEWS: You know, it's tough to say. I don't know what the situation is with Kris Versteeg as far as what's happening last night. Sometimes things like that happen, and it's unfortunate.

I think we've been playing well together. He's obviously having a tremendous season. Along with whether it's Patrick Kane or Dustin Byfuglien or anybody else, I think we're mixing well.

So I think since Dustin Byfuglien has been on the line, we've been creating a lot on of offense. So if we do play together on Wednesday, we're very comfortable playing together. So I think it will be another one of those nights where hopefully we'll create a lot of offense.

Q. What is the biggest difference from year one to year two have you noticed? Is it the attention you're getting or the extra responsibilities as captain or what have you noticed the biggest change?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't know. I think now reality sinks in where, you know, it's not -- you're not in dream land anymore, I guess in a way. But still, yeah, it's exciting to play different teams and great players night in and night out.

So, obviously, everything, playing in the NHL is made out to be. But now it's -- like I said, you've got to earn every point and every chance offensively, and every little thing that you do you've got to work harder for it in a way.

But I think at this point now I'm starting to think the game a little bit more, and sit back and just let the play happen in front of me instead of trying to control everything and be everywhere at once.

So I think I was trying a little bit too hard maybe early on in the season. Where now I'm just conserving my energy and playing smarter. I think that's why things are happening for me. So I think it's just not easy. I think there was kind of a hurdle I had to jump there, and I think I'm finally through that tough spot.

Q. So are you saying that being the captain does not affect your day-to-day grind all that much?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't think so. I think I've always got a few things to say here and there in the dressing room and on the bench. I think for me the way I lead is all about how I play and the energy I bring to my team. I think early on the guys understood I was going through a tough month there early on in the season, and that I was battling.

So everyone goes through that once in a while, but the point is I was trying hard. I was trying to make a difference. Now I think in big games, like the game the other night in Detroit, hopefully, my play and my contributions will help our team a little bit more than they have in the past. You know, I think that's just the way I'm going to keep leading.

Q. Can you briefly talk about that one goal against Detroit? The one everybody's talking about and comparing it to last year's goal?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, I don't know. I still wouldn't compare it to the one last year, I guess. But I think it's fun. We make exciting plays. We have a lot of guys on our team that can make those plays. In that situation, you need a little bit of luck and a few things to go your way.

It's just kind of a reaction thing when you know it just kind of happens, and you're like after you put the puck in there, I couldn't believe it went in. So it was one of those things that happens really fast. You don't think about it. It just goes in, and it's definitely exciting to make a play like that. But even better to score off of it, too.


Q. I want to fast forward a little bit. January 1st for the Winter Classic has become such a big day on the NHL calendar. I'm wondering, you guys have a bunch of games between now and then, but as a team, is it starting to be something that gets talked about a little bit in the locker room, what guys are planning, what they're doing?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, I think that would be an understatement. We've been hearing about it everywhere we go in the city since this summer and since the press conference. When it was officially announced that we were going to have that game, I think the city of Chicago is really excited about it.

I think it kind of goes along with the whole hype of how the Hawks are back in this city, and hockey is back. You know, I think it's a lot of fun for us to walk down the street and have people at restaurants and everywhere we go talking to us about it.

So, yeah, we're excited about it. But obviously we know that we're taking it day-by-day right now. We've capped off a good week last night. You know, we're just taking it short term right now. When that game comes around, obviously, it's not just going to be just another game for us. It's going to be a huge game that we want to get the two points in.

But, yeah, we're excited about it. But really I think we've done a good job of just focusing on one game at a time and the task that always lies ahead of us.

Q. There's a couple of guys on your team, Campbell, Burish, Duncan Keith that have played in games like this. Has anybody spoken to them yet about their advice? Have they said anything yet or do you think they will on what it's like to play in games like this in the outdoors and doing, you know, that kind of stuff?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, maybe a little bit. I think, you know, there's definitely going to be a lot of anticipation the day before and the day of. Who knows what the weather is going to be like and all the different things that are going to play into it.

Normally just like a regular Saturday night game or you're playing in your own building or on the road, it's definitely going to be a lot different. So I think any input those guys have for us is going to be helpful.

Obviously, that is experience that we've got to use, it's one of those games that I think preparation is going to help quite a bit.

Q. I'm curious, have you noticed any difference in Patrick Kane's personality through his success? Is he the same kid you knew in the beginning of last season in training camp to now, or has he changed at all?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't know. I'm not going to say he's changed. I think he's always been a pretty confident kid. I think that's what makes him the player that he is.

I don't know, I think he's a pretty unique individual in every way. So I think all the guys on the team appreciate him for that and what he does for our team. He's definitely a special player.

Q. Just more on the outdoor game. I'm sure you watched last year, but when you watched it did you think, wow, how cool would that be to play in one of those?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, I think it was pretty cool. I think just especially that game in Buffalo last year when the players were coming out, and the planes are flying overhead and the fireworks or whatever it was going off and the crowd. There won't be 70,000 people at our game, but I think the energy's going to be pretty similar.

So I think that whole kind of big?show atmosphere is going to be pretty cool to be a part of. So we're all looking forward to that.

But like I said, it is going to be a big show, but at the end of the day I think we've just got to try our best of doing a good job of focusing on the game at hand. I don't think there's anything we want more than to come out with the win over the wings.

I think we feel a little dejected after the last two losses where we played solid games both times against Detroit and we've come up short. So hopefully we're saving it for the night to get two points for January 1st.

Q. I'm sure most people presume both teams will have their best efforts. What about Wrigley Field itself and hockey? Have you sort of closed your eyes and figured what that's going to look like in there?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, well it's -- I was there this summer when they had the pretend hockey rink and the board set up. There's quite a bit of space around it on the baseball field. So it's a little different. We'll be further away from the fans, but I think just the atmosphere's going to be pretty cool. I think everyone's going to really enjoy being there, whether it's incredibly cold or not. I think people are going to be willing to tough it out just to be a part of it.

Q. I know in Chicago the resurgence of the Hawks is big. It's big for us throughout the league. What's it been like seeing this sort of resurgence happen in front of your very eyes? Hockey is back in Chicago in a big way?

JONATHAN TOEWS: You know what, I think it's pretty cool. I think it's obvious I was a pretty lucky kid on draft day to go to Chicago. You know, I never imagined that my first few years in the league would be this exciting and this historical in a way that it's been a struggling franchise.

Now, like you said, we've been making headlines across the league for things that our team and our organization has been doing on and off the ice. So I think we have a young and exciting team right now. A lot of potential, a lot of star players. It's just a lot of fun to be part of in so many ways.

On and off the ice we get along, we have a ball away from the rink. You know, we're all excited to play and go out there and win when we come to the rink.

Q. Canada's world junior camp starts this weekend, just wondering what it was like for you the first time you were asked to put on that jersey?

JONATHAN TOEWS: You know, I think I was watching the reactions of the players who were invited to the camp on TSN the other day. And I think it's funny because when you're the young guy, the first time you go to camp or first time you make the team, it seems like everyone has that same speechless kind of reaction. I think it's definitely pretty cool to go there for the first time.

For me to make the team the first time, I was so happy to be there, but at the same time there's so much emotion going through you that you want to keep working. You want to go out there and play and make sure you bring home that gold medal, because it means so much to the fans back home.

So I think it was definitely a very special moment. The first time I got a chance to play at the world juniors in Vancouver is a moment I'll remember for a long time.

Q. Is that first team that you played on was a really young team or inexperienced team with only I think Cam returning from it. This year's team is going to be much the same way. What was it like playing on such a young team?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't know. It was pretty overwhelming in a lot of ways because none of us had been there before. And it's tough to be in Vancouver. This year it's going to be in Ottawa, and it's pretty exciting for us to be there. No one expected us to be there and go for two gold medals, and we did. We pulled it off against a pretty tough Russian team.

So everything about it was unbelievable. And I think we really banded together because no one in that tournament wanted to win more than us. I think that's what drove us all the way to the end.

Q. New Year's Eve, Canada plays against the U.S., are you going to be sitting down with Patrick watching that game?

JONATHAN TOEWS: I think so. I think I'll have to check it out. I might take my mind off things a little bit with all the hype. And anticipation for the next day. But that will be fun to watch, for sure.

Q. You've struggled a bit this season with the transition game. I'm wondering, forechecking style, how does that not only suit your game and your lines, but also the Blackhawks as a whole in terms of how you might approach Wednesday's game?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Their forechecking style?

Q. Yeah.

JONATHAN TOEWS: Well, I think it changes sometimes. Depending on what teams we're playing. I think we're -- I don't know. Sometimes we it's tough to find a word to describe it. We get overexcited. We want to attack and go after the puck. We're a young energetic team.

And I think what Coach Joel Quenneville has tried to teach us is sometimes it's better just to sit back and let other teams make mistakes and just kind of relax and let the play develop in front of you sometimes.

I think since he's come in, we've definitely become a more technically sound as a team. I think we've learned to make less mistakes and sometimes calm down when we need to out there. So I think we're learning to have more of a veteran mentality on our team right now.

Q. You don't play Ottawa too much. Have you been able to watch any video of their games to get an idea of what you're in for maybe?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, I think everyone knows Spezza has definitely picked it up. And watching it the other night, I don't know who it was against, he had a great game -- Heatley had a couple of assists, and it seems the top guys are firing again, so we have to be ready for that.

Q. I understand they're still pronouncing your name wrong in Detroit, even though you've done quite a bit already as a player. What's that all about?

  JONATHAN TOEWS: I don't know. I wouldn't know about that. What would they say?

Q. I was reading a story in one of your local papers down there saying how the P.A. announcer is closer to tower than Toews in Detroit. So you don't notice that?

JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, it's pretty much the story. So I'm surprised there are still people getting it wrong, but I guess you still can't blame them. At the end of the day, it's still pretty confusing I guess, so that's the way it is.


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