Jonathan Toews relies on team accomplishments to bolster résumé

Jonathan Toews raises the Stanley Cup. (Photo: swimfinfan via Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons License)

As #OverratedWeek continues, Section 237 hits the ice.

Today we look at Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Despite leading the most successful franchise in the Post-Lockout Era, which obscures his lack of personal achievements.

The player

Jonathan Toews is a fine player.

Since entering the league in 2008, he’s won three Stanley Cups. He’s also collected two major awards, a Selke Trophy in 2013 and a Conn Smythe in 2010.

Despite the politics around the award, the Selke nod was well deserved. Toews is a skilled two-way player and a superb penalty killer. He’s good for at least a few short-handed goals per year.

His Conn Smythe was also impressive. Awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Conn Smythe is among the most hallowed awards in the NHL. Toews earned it with 29 points in 22 games, including a playoff-leading 22 assists.

Toews has won a cadre of hardware internationally. A regular part of Team Canada, Toews has two Olympic golds to go with a handful of hardware from his junior years and other competitions.

The praise

After World’s Best Player™ Sidney Crosby was dogged by a series of head-and-neck issues in 2011, a five-year period ensued where hockey fans and bloggers attempted to crown a new king.

Jonathan Toews was one of those players.

As part of the 62nd NHL All-Star Game in February, the NHL celebrated 100 seasons by rolling out a list of it’s 100 greatest players. A Blue Ribbon panel was established, and much fanfare and consternation broke out over the results.

Jonathan Toews was one of six active players on that list.

He’s beloved in Chicago too, where fellow teammates (and Top 100 members) Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith have proven either too brash or too understated to be the face of the franchise.

The Chicago Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars, February 6, 2016, in Dallas. (Photo: Thomas Joseph)

The comparisons

Jonathan Toews does not belong on that Top 100 list.

Among active players on the list (we’ll leave Joe Nieuwendyk for another time) Toews’ inclusion is laughable.

Three of the other five are demonstrably legends in their own right.

Jaromir Jagr is an ageless, mulleted wonder. Sidney Crosby is the best player of the Post-Lockout Era. Alex Ovechkin’s goal scoring would impress in any era, but it’s mind-bottling in this one.

Kane won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP last year, capping a season where also won a scoring title. His inclusion may be premature, but history won’t frown on his appearance.

Keith’s minute munching playoff achievements are the stuff of legend, and he won the Conn Smythe going away in 2015. He’s won two Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman.

The other four forwards on this list regularly appear in top-10s of various scoring categories, and have won a combined 34 major regular season awards.† It’s pretty obvious at this point that his relatively skilled and healthy teammates contributed to his postseason success as well.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 3.51.55 PM
One of these things is not like the others. (H/T to Hockey-Reference for the data.)

That’s ultimately the issue with Toews. He receives an enormous amount of praise, and some of it is justified.

He was also one draft slot away from joining the notably Cup-less Washington Capitals. And for all his unquantifiable “leadership” qualities, Crosby was given the ‘C’ for Team Canada in Sochi (whatever that’s worth).

Toews is a superb penalty killer. He’s a solid offensive contributor. He’s not one of the greatest of all time.

† – I declined to include the Calder Trophy as it’s usually dependent upon a rookie class. Kane won the 2008 award over Toews. I also included the Lindsay because Sid and Ovie have split the respective MVP awards multiple times. Kane won both awards last season.



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