He may be Winnipeg's biggest present-day hockey star but Jonathan Toews is pushing charity to centre stage here this summer.
Toews, the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, has attached his name to the annual Canadian Tour stop at Pine Ridge and helped steer the event in support of more community causes.
The Players Cup hosted by Jonathan Toews, at Pine Ridge July 14-17, will include a repeat of last year's Monday Jonathan Toews FORE Kids Golf Classic that in 2010 raised $100,000 for the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation.
Tuesday afternoon of tournament week, all eyes will turn to the new Jonathan Toews and Friends Celebrity Pro-Am presented by the Winnipeg Free Press. Toews and several NHL legends such as Bobby Hull, Denis Savard, Doug Gilmour, Thomas Steen and Mike Keane will join current NHLers like Brian Campbell, Colin Wilson and Taylor Chorney for a unique format of one athlete, one Canadian Tour pro and two amateurs in an exclusive show that will be open to weekly badge holders.
"We're just focused now on making the experience for the sponsors and the players the best possible," tournament executive director Ryan Hart said Thursday. "It's going to be a championship competition atmosphere, with players walking, having caddies and official scorers."
Hart said just four spots remain open for amateurs as of Thursday.
Wednesday, the pre-tournament activities will continue with the traditional Canadian Tour pro-am in the afternoon, before the $300,000 championship kicks off on Thursday.
"I truly believe we're over the hump," Hart said of the revamped tournament-week format. "Jonathan and his team at Pro Ice have been excellent to deal with and they've made my life easy that way."
Toews said the opportunity to get involved to boost the charity component of the week was a no-brainer after last year's wildly successful Monday event at Pine Ridge.
"This is exciting," he said. "If you get an opportunity to do something like this, why not take it? My four years in the league have flown by and as a young player in the league I still feel like I'm establishing myself... but I've been very fortunate to be on a good team those years and win a Stanley Cup in my third year.
"With charity, giving back, those sorts of things go a long way and it's a great way to influence people and get them to give their time and money."
Hart has indicated that organizers are gunning for big crowds for the Tuesday event.
"I think I'm used to all the people when I'm playing hockey but it's an entirely different thing when I'm playing golf," Toews laughed. He said later, however, that he's been trying to put in some serious work on his game ahead of tournament week.
He's been off the ice since the Hawks lost Game 7 of the first round in Vancouver.
"This feels weird," he said. "I've been off the ice for over a month now and it feels like training camp should be just a couple of weeks away, like it felt last summer."
CELEBRITIES named Thursday to play at Pine Ridge in the July 12 Jonathan Toews and Friends Celebrity Pro-Am presented by the Winnipeg Free Press: