Toews eliminated himself from the equation once the Blackhawks entered the Stanley Cup finals. He had been disappointed with his own play, particularly with his offensive production -- one goal through the first three series. But he wasn’t going to let that possess him with everything on the line.
Instead, he moved on, and by moving on, Toews ultimately achieved what he sought out to do individually and as a team.
Before being the first one handed the Stanley Cup on Monday night, Toews came through for the Blackhawks with their first goal and later an assist on the game-tying goal to lead Chicago to a 3-2 comeback win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 at TD Garden.
“I said it coming into the series that I set my personal agenda aside,” Toews said on the ice afterward. “I’m not going to let little things, I guess, lack of success bother me and take me away from staying away from [my] work ethic and contribute any way I can for this team. You got to stay confident and stay positive that the goals are going to come at the right time. I like to think that they did.”
The Blackhawks would have been content with the smallest of contributions from Toews in Game 6. It was only one game before that he became a spectator and missed the entire third period because of an unspecified upper-body injury that occurred from various hits from the Bruins.
It would take more than that, though, to keep Toews off the ice. He deemed himself “great” after the team’s morning skate Monday and then proved it in the evening.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has witnessed enough of Toews’ heroics throughout his career not to be surprised by what he did Monday.
“He had a monster game,” Quenneville said. “The bigger the game, the bigger the setting, you know what you're going to get from Jonathan Toews. He just knows how to play hockey. Whether he's productive or not, absorbs a lot of big minutes from their matchup guys and he never gets outscored.
“His production sometimes gets criticized. The one thing is he plays the way you want a hockey player to play, and our captain, as well.”
Toews displayed his leadership as a captain with his words and his actions during the celebration. After Toews was given the Stanley Cup on Monday, the first person he handed it off to was veteran Michal Handzus.
“I just had a quick conversation with Sheldon Brookbank and Jamal Mayers, and I handed the Cup right off to Michal Handzus,” Toews said. “You want to win for guys like that, that have been in the league for a long time and worked very hard. They’ll do anything for their teammates and anything for team. Those are guys you want in your group. … It’s amazing to win for yourself and your family, especially those guys. They’re more deserving than anybody. It’s amazing.”
It really was never about him.