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Jonathan Toews wins Conn Smythe; Was he the best choice?

Jun 10, 2010, 12:30 AM EDT

toewsyoungestcaptain.jpgThere was a moment or two during this year’s playoffs when I wondered if Jonathan Toews might ascend another rung on the superstar ladder and join the truly elite players in the hockey world.

After he came down to earth a bit during the Cup finals, I’m not sure if he’s quite “there” yet. Instead, I guess Toews will just settle for this pittance of a year: an Olympic gold medal, being named a top forward for that tournament and now the dual honors of being the youngest captain to ever win a Stanley Cup (take that, Sidney Crosby!) and a Conn Smythe. All that for a 22-year-old nicknamed “Captain Serious” – who happens to rock some serious sideburns, to boot.

Considering the fact that the playoffs are often jam-packed with hockey heroism, debates over the “most deserving” Smythe winner will crop up in many circles. Before tonight’s game, I stated that Chris Pronger should win it (Cup or not) while Brandon picked the Blackhawks’ fantastic defenseman Duncan Keith.

While he faced similar struggles as his teammate, one could also make a decent argument for Patrick Kane, as well (and not just because of his courageous decision to grow a playoff mullet). Toews had three assists in the Cup finals to augment his 29 points overall (second only in the playoffs to the Flyers’ other dark horse Smythe candidate, Danny Briere, who scored 30). Kane wasn’t far behind with 28 of his own, though. The thing is, Kane put up much better numbers in the championship round. He had three goals and five assists for eight points, all in the last four games. Oh yeah, he also scored that oddball overtime game winner that clinched the first Blackhawks Cup since 1961. It’s at least reasonable to wonder if Kane’s late surge made him just as MVP-worthy.

Really, though, all that talk is just nitpicking at this point. Toews never stopped fighting … even when he wasn’t putting up numbers and even when he was on the wrong end of a Pronger collision. His “puck luck” seemed to run out after putting up a crazy 26 points through the first three rounds, yet few questioned his leadership or determination during the postseason.

He might not have the magical skills of a Gretzky or a Lemieux (or even his partner in crime, Patrick Kane) but he’s mature beyond his years when it comes to leading by example. I’ve heard the comparisons to Mark Messier – and while he might not match the bloodthirsty brutality of the man who broke the New York Rangers curse – he certainly seems to share that do-whatever-it takes DNA. And, really, you cannot complain too much about Messier comparisons, can you? (Unless someone says you have a “Messier-like” hairline. Then they’re being mean to you.)

For all we know, Toews could have 10-18 seasons left in his career. Chicago will have a “bulls-eye” on their collective backs during every game next season as contenders use those games as “measuring sticks” for their own progress. With a roster that could be at least dented – if not seriously damaged – by salary cap issues, the team will lean on Toews even more as time goes on. In other words, it’s only going to get tougher for the young Canadian leader to experience the joy of hoisting the Cup again.

Something tells me he’s not particularly worried about that right now, though.

  1. Pete - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    Toews was the most valuable player. Over the course of the playoffs he kept the Jawks focused, logged huge goals and assists and was the driving force of this team. He is the captain for a reason. He is the most valuable player to this team.

  2. Rick - Jun 10, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    Yes, but he was invisible for much of the finals. Great young player, but not the MVP this year. Even he seemed pretty surprised when they announced it. Duncan Keith was better throughout the playoffs. Hawks will have plenty more chances to spread it around. Talk about a team set to go on a long run of Cups!

  3. Margie - Jun 10, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    ***the youngest captain to ever win a Stanley Cup (take that, Sidney Crosby!) and a Conn Smythe. All that for a 22-year-old nicknamed “Captain Serious” -***
    you do know that Sid Crosby was 21 when he won the Lord Stanley. that makes Toews the SECOND youngest, please. so take that, James O’Brien!!! =0p

  4. Robert - Jun 10, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    I do agree that Toews had a great playoffs, but I dont honestly think he should have been MVP. Yes, he was a leader to his team and yes he did the grunt work (both him and Richards were great in both these facets). I honestly would have liked to see Leino win the CS because he came out of nowhere and was a huge impact player for the Flyers. Yes, he didnt put up the same numbers as Toews, Kane, or Briere, but he had a brilliant run.

  5. JP - Jun 10, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Are you kidding me?!! Why the flip didn’t Briere win the Conn Smythe? 12 points in the final series??? That’s only 1 pt behind the ALL TIME RECORD set by Wayne Gretzky. Not only that but he led the league in points this post-season!! Complete and utter bullshit!

  6. Willmax - Jun 11, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    If you watch carefully the video where Tazer is called up to accept the trophy he talks to #2 Duncan Keith as he turns to leave.
    Then when he skates back with the trophy he points his finger to
    one of his team mates. Can you guess who he is pointing to and
    what he is saying?
    P.S. By the way, my sister is his great aunt.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1587)
  2. P. Kane (1521)
  3. M. Richards (1323)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1175)
  5. N. Backstrom (1064)