Earlier this week, the sale and move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg became official, giving Winnipeg its first NHL franchise since the Coyotes moved down south to Phoenix.
While that team has yet to get a name or a uniform, fears quickly sprung up around the Blackhawks fanbase, with many wondering if their beloved captain Jonathan Toews would bolt the Windy City to be the hometown hero back in Winnipeg. This concern comes despite the fact that Captain Toews is signed through the 2014-15 season.
But Toews put those fears to rest a bit on Wednesday, in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards. He told Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune that there’s “no reason” for him to go anywhere. And by anywhere, he means Winnipeg.
Just look at what Toews has already accomplished in his short tenure as a Blackhawk. He’s already won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe, a Selke Trophy nomination, and is well on his way to becoming the greatest captain, if not the greatest Blackhawk in team history.
That’s not to mention the fanbase and the popularity he holds in Chicago. A city where hockey was ranked even beneath the Cubs prior to his being drafted, Toews has led the resurgence of the franchise to the point where it is as good as any other market in the NHL.
While his stats aren’t in line with the likes of Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, Toews might very well be a Hart Trophy finalist as soon as next season. After a slow start, Toews was one of the hottest players throughout the spring, vaulting to the top of the leaderboard in points, and may have been hoping for a different award on Wednesday, rather than the Selke.
At just 23, Toews’ prime is still coming, just as it is with most of these Blackhawks. Those talks of a ‘dynasty’ after the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 were no joke. This is a young team, led by, arguably, the best captain in the NHL and they are going to win at least another Cup or two, which is perhaps the most difficult task in sports.
Add all that up, it’s no wonder Toews has no intentions of leaving the Windy City any time soon. And I’m awfully sure Hawks’ brass has no plans for letting him walk anywhere, even if he has an opportunity to become the hometown kid back in Winnipeg.