September 2, 2015


Heat warning in effect

NHL

Hometown game 'a pretty special thing' for Toews

Chicago Blackhawks' goaltender Corey Crawford (bottom) can't stop a shot from the point by Winnipeg Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom as Matt Halishchuk (15) and Michael Frolik (67) of the Jets and Hawks' Nick Leddy (8) look for the rebound during the first period. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Members of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate a first-period goal by Toby Enstrom (bottom right). The goal would be the Jets' lone marker Saturday afternoon. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Members of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate the first-period goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson (bottom left). (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks tries to get the puck past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec during the first period. (Chicago Blackhawks #20 )
Zach Bogosian (second from right) tries to get the puck out of the Jets zone during the first period as (from left) Toby Enstrom, Jonathan Toews, James Wright and Marion Hossa scramble for the puck.
Zach Bogosian gets shoved into the boards. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Jonathan Toews rushes down the boards during Saturday afternoons game. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Andrew Shaw (right) of the Blackhawks skates with the puck as James Wright gives chase during the second period. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec heads to the bench after being replaced during the second period. (USA Today Sports / Reuters)
Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell (centre) and Andrew Shaw (right) celebrate Nick Leddy's goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) makes a save off a Matt Halishchuk shot as Johnny Oduya (left) picks up the rebound during the second period. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Evander Kane tries can't beat Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford during the second period. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Matt Halischuk (centre) tries to get the puck from Jeremy Morin (right) during the third period. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Evander Kane (9) and Jonathan Toews (19) jostle for position during the third period. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Grant Clitsome (24) checks Jonathan Toews (left) as Olli Jokinen (12) looks on during the third  period. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Chicago Blackhawks' goaltender Corey Crawford (bottom) can't stop a shot from the point by Winnipeg Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom as Matt Halishchuk (15) and Michael Frolik (67) of the Jets and Hawks' Nick Leddy (8) look for the rebound during the first period. - (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Members of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate a first-period goal by Toby Enstrom (bottom right). The goal would be the Jets' lone marker Saturday afternoon. - (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Members of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate the first-period goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson (bottom left). - (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks tries to get the puck past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec during the first period. - (Chicago Blackhawks #20 )
Zach Bogosian (second from right) tries to get the puck out of the Jets zone during the first period as (from left) Toby Enstrom, Jonathan Toews, James Wright and Marion Hossa scramble for the puck.
Zach Bogosian gets shoved into the boards. - (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Jonathan Toews rushes down the boards during Saturday afternoons game. - (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Andrew Shaw (right) of the Blackhawks skates with the puck as James Wright gives chase during the second period. - (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec heads to the bench after being replaced during the second period. - (USA Today Sports / Reuters)
Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell (centre) and Andrew Shaw (right) celebrate Nick Leddy's goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period. - (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) makes a save off a Matt Halishchuk shot as Johnny Oduya (left) picks up the rebound during the second period. - (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Evander Kane tries can't beat Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford during the second period. - (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Matt Halischuk (centre) tries to get the puck from Jeremy Morin (right) during the third period. - (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
Evander Kane (9) and Jonathan Toews (19) jostle for position during the third period. - (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Grant Clitsome (24) checks Jonathan Toews (left) as Olli Jokinen (12) looks on during the third period. - (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

If you want to know how many of Jonathan Toews' family and friends are coming to see the Chicago Blackhawks captain make his hometown NHL debut this afternoon, don’t ask the star centre – with only a few hours left before puck drop, he still didn’t know for sure.

Nope, you gotta ask his mom. "She’ll tell you," Toews said, speaking to a sea of media before his team takes on the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre today: point is, there will be a lot, and with that comes just a hint of extra pressure. "Maybe a little bit, but that’s the fun part. You want to play well, and you want to make the most of your first game back."

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews plays against the Winnipeg Jets  Saturday afternoon at MTS Centre.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews plays against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday afternoon at MTS Centre. Photo Store

For Toews, now in his seventh season in the NHL, it felt a little strange to come home on the road, as it were. He went out for dinner with family and friends on Friday night, just like he does in his off-season life in Winnipeg.

"It was kind of weird being back here during the season," he said. "It took long enough, three seasons into the Jets being back to have a chance to come back here, but soon enough it will be kind of a normal thing… Just to be back here, and kind of think about where I grew up, and all the rinks I grew up playing hockey at… to be playing at this level in my hometown is a pretty special thing."

Though Toews doesn’t keep up with the Jets too closely, he said he had heard about Jets fans’ tendency to razz star players of the opposing team. Maybe he’ll get a hometown boy discount on the booing.

"Hopefully, it’s at least a mixed bag at worst," Toews said. "We’ll see. I’m not too sure what to expect there. If it’s me, or another player on the team, it’ll be pretty exciting to see anyways."

Today’s game marks the first time the Blackhawks have played an NHL game in Winnipeg since 1996. The reigning Stanley Cup champions are also tearing up their start at 8-2-3, and Toews has been played at a point-per-game clip to lead his team in scoring.

Game time is 2 p.m.

Toews will start the game, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville indicated a couple of hours before puck drop. Though he said he hadn’t talked to his captain specifically about the homecoming, the coach sounded pleased. "I’m sure it will be a very proud moment, taking that first face-off and playing these guys," Quenneville said.

Quenneville, though, is focused on other things. Despite being one of the hottest teams in the league, the Blackhawks also have the NHL’s worst penalty kill – which is simmering at just 72.5 per cent – a fact not helped by the trade of Michael Frolik to the Jets during the off-season. The Blackhawks have struggled to find the right player to fill that spot he left behind. "I think we’ve been improving the kill, but the stats don’t reflect it," Quenneville said.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks coach said that now that the Jets are cosied up in the Central Division, he expects the two teams to get to know each other a lot better – and dislike each other. "I just think over time we expect this rivalry to become one of the key ones with Chicago," he said. "Having three former Blackhawks could certainly help with that appetite going into games."

 
History

Updated on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:30 PM CDT: story update, game info

3:24 PM: fresh photo

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