Injury puts Toews debut on hold

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:13 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jonathan Toews remains down. And now he's officially listed as out.

Toews, the 19-year-old Winnipegger, will have to wait a couple more days -- and quite possibly longer -- to make his much-heralded National Hockey League debut.

Toews, who was selected third overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, will sit out tonight's game at the Excel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.

After making some strides earlier in the week and actually hitting the ice with his teammates for a full workout on Tuesday, Toews was held out of practice yesterday because the broken index finger on his right hand has not fully healed.

Toews was looking forward to suiting up in front of family and friends in an arena he's familiar with from his days with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux.

"It's frustrating," Toews said after arriving in Minnesota yesterday. "It would have been a special place to start. But it's not just that, it's the fact that I want to get going and I want to get back on the ice.

"I've already been on the sidelines for five or six pre-season games. I'm not used to being out like this."

Toews is scheduled to have another X-ray taken tomorrow and he's hoping to get medical clearance to suit up on Saturday in the Blackhawks' home opener against the Detroit Red Wings.

"I guess it would be nice to start at home (in the United Center), too," he said. "We'll see how it goes, I guess."

Toews got off to a great start in the pre-season, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But in the second period of his second game, also against the Blue Jackets, the gifted centre suffered the injury to his finger when he blocked a shot.

The original prognosis was that Toews would miss two-to-three weeks, but finger injuries can be a little tougher to gauge.

"It's so minor, you want to play through it. Obviously, if it was another time -- maybe like the playoffs -- I probably could," said Toews.

"It's one of those things where I have to take care of it now. It's tough to accept that fact, I guess. But you do what you have to do. I've been working hard, skating hard and trying to stay in game shape. When I finally get a chance to play, I want to show what I can do out there."

Toews won't be the only Manitoban missing the opener for the Blackhawks.

Earlier this week, fellow Winnipegger Cam Barker was re-assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Barker, the third overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, was sent down to refine his game after the Blackhawks signed former Vancouver Canucks blue-liner Brent Sopel.

Defenceman Duncan Keith, who is entering his third season with the Blackhawks, was born in Winnipeg and is expected to start the campaign on the top pairing with Brent Seabrook.

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'TOBA POWER

Manitobans in the NHL to start the 2007-08 NHL season

Number Name Pos Home Age Ht Wt 2006-07 team

ANAHEIM DUCKS

7 Shane Hnidy D Neepawa 31 6'2 204 Atlanta (NHL) 72 GP, 5G, 12P, 63PIM

ATLANTA THRASHERS

2 Garnet Exelby D Ste. Anne 28 6'1 215 Atlanta (NHL) 58GP, 2G, 10P, 56PIM

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

2 Duncan Keith D Winnipeg 24 6'0 187 Chicago (NHL) 82GP, 2G, 31P, 76PIM

19 Jonathan Toews C Winnipeg 19 6'2 203 UND (NCAA) 34GP, 18G, 46 P, 10 PIM

COLORADO AVALANCHE

39 Tyler Arnason C Winnipeg 28 5'11 204 Colorado (NHL) 82GP, 16G, 49P, 26PIM

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

10 Duvie Wescott D Winnipeg 29 5'11 197 Columbus (NHL) 23 GP, 4G, 10P, 18PIM

45 Jody Shelley LW Thompson 31 6'4 230 Columbus (NHL) 72GP, 1G, 2P, 125PIM

DETROIT RED WINGS

14 Derek Meech D Winnipeg 23 5'11 196 Grand Rapids (AHL) 67GP, 6G, 29P, 40PIM

EDMONTON OILERS

27 Dustin Penner RW Winkler 25 6'4 243 Anaheim (NHL) 82GP, 29G, 45P, 58PIM

LOS ANGELES KINGS

15 Brady Murray LW Brandon 23 5'9 165 Rapperswil-Jona (Swiss) 38GP, 12G, 32P, 38PIM

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

22 Jordin Tootoo RW Churchill 24 5'9 194 Nashville (NHL) 65GP, 3G, 9P, 116PIM

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

19 Travis Zajac C Winnipeg 22 6'2 200 New Jersey (NHL) 80GP, 17G, 42P, 16PIM

22 Arron Asham RW Portage 29 5'11 209 N.Y. Islanders (NHL) 80GP, 11G, 23P, 63PIM

NEW YORK RANGERS

28 Colton Orr RW Winnipeg 25 6'3 220 N.Y. Rangers (NHL) 53GP, 2G, 3P, 126PIM

ST. LOUIS BLUES

27 Bryce Salvador D Brandon 31 6'2 222 St. Louis (NHL) 64GP, 2G, 7P, 55PIM

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

7 Ian White D Steinbach 23 5'10 185 Toronto (NHL) 76GP, 3G, 26P, 40PIM

10 Alex Steen LW Winnipeg 23 6'1 205 Toronto (NHL) 82GP, 15G, 35P, 26PIM


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