Toews has arrived

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Before he's even played his first NHL game, Jonathan Toews has achieved something normally reserved for Chicago sports legends like Michael Jordan.

Toews, who is expected to help inject some life into the Chicago Blackhawks franchise, already has his own billboard in the Windy City.

Sure, the advertisement proclaiming Toews as the future of the Blackhawks is something to be proud of, but the Winnipegger just plans to go about his daily business and continue to improve as a hockey player.

When asked about his expectations for the coming season earlier this week, Toews had little interest in projecting what his statistics might be.

"I'm not the type of guy to come out and make statements," said Toews. "I know what I'm capable of doing if all goes well. I'm going to take it day-by-day and just look short-term a little more and make the most of every situation I'm in."

Though his NHL debut has been put on hold by a broken finger, it's obvious that Toews has arrived -- and people have taken notice.

"He's got a good competitive edge and he doesn't want to fail," said Blackhawks forward Martin Lapointe, who has suggested the Toews will make a great captain sooner rather than later. "He's a smart kid and he leads by example on the ice and works hard off the ice. He has features that you don't see in a typical 19-year-old.

SPECIAL KID

"He's a special kid. He'll play more than 1,000 games in the NHL, for sure."

Early in training camp, Denis Savard compared Toews to Peter Forsberg and yesterday the compliments flowed from the mouth of the Blackhawks head coach.

"He's a 19-year-old with a 30-year-old mentality. He's so mature," said Savard. "He's been well coached. He's just a pro, there's no other way to explain it.

"He's just a great kid and he's going to be a great leader for us, even though he's young."

Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Thompson (a Winnipegger himself), has watched Toews play numerous times and continues to be impressed.

"What stands out to me, more than anything, is that this guy has always been a complete hockey player and that he has the opportunity to be a very good player in so many ways in the NHL," said Thompson. "People always say 'who does he remind you of?' I think he's a cross between Steve Yzerman and Bryan Trottier. He has that smooth skill level of an Yzerman and the grit to his game that Trottier had.

"He's got his head on his shoulders and he'll be the kind of guy that will be fun to watch during his career."

Thompson wasn't the least bit surprised to see Toews named Top Forward in the 2007 World Junior Hockey Championship or that he made such a smooth transition going from college hockey to help Team Canada win a gold medal at the 2007 World Hockey Championship.

"This guy could be something special," said Thompson.

When Toews is healthy enough to play, he's expected to skate alongside fellow first rounder Patrick Kane, who was chosen first overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

"We had some good chemistry going before he got hurt," said Kane. "He's the kind of centre you want to play with. He's a good two-way centre, he does all the work and gets you the puck. He's a great player and I know the team is looking forward to when he gets back because he's going to be a big part of the lineup."


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