Three-time Stanley Cup Champion and 2015 Recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, Jonathan Toews, is the best captain in sports today.
By William Chase
When Derek Jeter retired from the New York Yankees following the 2014 season, it wasn’t just one of the best players retiring from the sport, but perhaps the best captain in sports going along with it.
Thinking recently about the landscape across sports today, I was pondering who could even come close to what Jeter has done, as a player for their team and sport, but also as a captain.
I didn’t have to think about it long.
The 2015 recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award and three-time Stanley Cup champion, Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, is arguably the best captain in sports today. Since 2007, the Mark Messier Leadership Award has been given to the player who best demonstrates leadership on the ice and in the community.
The Blackhawks forward isn’t just a great hockey player. Toews illicit’s similar championship pedigree — three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks — and, like Jeter’s presence with the Yankees, makes up the winning core the Hawks have leaned on since their run started in 2010.
Most captains in the NHL may not get involved directly with the rough stuff. However that element of the game does not faze Jonathan Toews.
A player with only three fighting majors to his credit spanning the first eight seasons of his career prior to 2015, the now feisty forward dropped the gloves already twice in November.
Even former Blackhawks teammate and current Calgary Flames forward Brandon Bollig wanted no part of Toews, who has won both of his fights this season.
Bollig on potential bout w/ Toews: “I asked him last game, he said yes and I kind of backed down. I got scared.” #Blackhawks
— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) November 20, 2015
Toews is not afraid of the other guy. Nothing fazed Derek Jeter. Remember the seats of 2004?
If not completely the same player, they do both have similar characteristics of players who have a desire to win and who play the game hard, who play the game the right way; unquestioned leaders who led their teams to greatness. Maybe not the most flashiest at all times, but no question they’re players who leave it out there and give it their all. Always.
Said Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in a recent Chicago Tribune article by Dan Arrit:
We have a team that won’t shy away from rough stuff and we have a team that can play with a skilled team. Maybe it’s a good mixture of players. We might not have the biggest team, but we have a lot of big hearts in here and we can fight big in big moments.
The emergence of Toews onto the NHL scene in 2007 coincided with a new core of potential. Much like Jeter with the Yankees in 1995. Both clubs would improve almost right away, and while there were a number of factors for both teams that led to the winning and greatness, it’s hard to ignore the winning correlations of both, and the impact they have, and had, on their franchises today.
It speaks a lot about a guy in Toews when we’re just now getting to his statistical production on the ice. For the current 2015-16 campaign, Toews has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) and for his career 231 goals, 290 assists and 521 points. He has a career plus/minus 175 and has netted 45 career game-winning goals.
Like Jeter, Toews has not only competed on the biggest stage multiple times, but has excelled on them. The 2014 Gold Medalist with Team Canada is also the second-youngest winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy — 22 years, 41 days in 2010 — and is the forth youngest captain in NHL history. Named captain after only 64 NHL games, it was also the fastest a player has been designated the ‘C’ on the sweater.
In 117 career postseason games, Toews has 39 career goals — 10 for a game winner — 63 assists for 102 points.
With the exception of injury in 2011-12 and of course the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Toews has been consistent, not only statistically on the ice, but also in being on the ice, averaging nearly 71 games a season.
To date, he’s a 3-time all-star and will likely be selected for a forth time for the event, this season in Nashville.
Derek Jeter was Rookie of the Year in 1996. Jonathan Toews was among the top rookies, as he was named a nominee for the Calder Memorial Trophy upon his 2007-08 season. They both won three championship rings before the age of 30.
When it comes to the franchise leaders for the New York Yankees, we know Derek Jeter is at the top of many categories: leader in games played, career hits, stolen bases, doubles, times on base, plate appearances, at-bats.
Only 27-years-old, Toews is currently third all-time for Chicago in plus/minus, ninth in even strength goals, fifth in game-winning goals — Toews is currently one behind Denis Savard and four behind Steve Larmer.
The opportunities are limitless for the future Hall of Famer, and for a player not yet 30 years old, who already possesses three championship rings and a gold medal.