Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Toews is the anti-LeBron

Hockey's most complete player deserves Cup, parade, lake

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Some time in the next week or so, a 22-year-old from south Winnipeg will determine it is time to get back to work. The work of becoming the most complete hockey player in the world.

For Jonathan Toews the last six months have been ridiculous. Olympic gold medal. Stanley Cup. Conn Smythe Trophy. It's a run no other hockey player in the history of the game has put together.

JT, or Captain Serious or just Jonathan, is among the top three hockey players in the world. Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews. The list ends there and Toews is pushing to have his name at the top.

Starting a team tomorrow and given the opportunity to begin with one of these players as a foundation, there's no question for us. It's Toews. No-brainer.

Sure, Sid's a beauty and if we needed a goal any time and any place we'd call his number. But Toews does it all from goal line to goal line. He's part Bob Gainey and part Steve Yzerman. Complete. Whole. The entire bunch of bananas.

Ovechkin? Please. He's all flash. Great on Sports Centre. Brutal in the clutch. End of discussion.

For Toews, one surmises this is only the beginning. He wants more. And it's hard to come to the conclusion he won't get it.

On Sunday he'll have a parade in his honour and the province named a lake after him this week. A lake? Who thought that up? Still, pretty cool opener with the ladies. "Toews. Lake Toews."

Don't be surprised if this becomes a ritual in these parts. Toews, we're beginning to see, is a once in a lifetime player and leader. Mike Keane held three Stanley Cup parties in these parts during his NHL heyday. Toews, it wouldn't surprise us, might just end up breaking that record.

As a player, there's little not to like. As a person? Not sure, don't really know him. But as a leader and team captain and face of a franchise, there's no better in hockey and likely all of pro sports.

No ESPN press conferences for Toews to announce he's dumping on the franchise that made him a millionaire.

No, while the state of Ohio is gazing downward wondering what happened and why their King has fled the castle, the province of Manitoba is celebrating its prince of puck and all he represents.

Toews is the anti-LeBron. And thank God for that.

Surely, Toews is human and we'll be exposed to that side before his run is out. We're not naive and fully understand pro athletes come in all shades of jerk. But to date Toews has made the right chess moves. Kept his mouth shut as a rookie and worked with grim determination to achieve his goals. Now the slot machine is ringing and no one seems able to make it stop.

Here's hoping the jackpots don't end for a while. Parades are fun and even better in our own backyard.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Jonathan Toews itinerary

 

SUNDAY

9 a.m: Toews visits the Manitoba Legislative Building to have lake named in his honour

11 a.m: City Hall courtyard (speeches and presentation by mayor)

Noon: parade -- starts at École Christine Lespérance (425 John Forsyth St.)

1 p.m. - 4 p.m: Parade and celebration at Dakota C.C.

MONDAY

8 a.m: Jonathan Toews for Kids Golf Classic at Pine Ridge Golf Club

9 a.m.- 9:30 a.m: Open forum with Jonathan and participants

10 a.m: 30-minute clinic

11 a.m: Toews departs for Winnipeg Rehab Centre

1 p.m: visits Winnipeg Rehab Centre

3 p.m: visits Children's Hospital

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2010 D2

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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