Watching from press box tough

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews would have done almost anything to trade in his designer suit for a crisp, white Chicago Blackhawks jersey last night.

But thanks to a broken finger on his right hand, the closest Toews got was wearing a practice jersey for an intense 30-plus minute conditioning session at the end of the morning skate.

This was not what the Winnipegger had in mind when he thought of what the Blackhawks season opener against the Minnesota Wild would entail.

"It sucks to be up there watching and I'm just hoping that I won't get to know the press boxes in too many of these rinks," said Toews, the third overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

"Hopefully, I can get back at it pretty soon. I'm not sitting out and resting by choice, that goes without saying. But in the end, I understand it's not worth it (to rush back) right now. I might as well let this thing heal so I don't have to worry about it."

Toews received the news he wouldn't be suiting up from head coach Denis Savard and general manager Dale Tallon on Wednesday.

"We're doing what's best for our player," Savard said yesterday. "It's a long season. There's no other way to look at it. I told him, 'you might be playing 1,500 games in this league. Two games, three games, whatever it takes. It's not going to kill you.'"

The Hawks could have used Toews last night as they lost 1-0 to the Wild.

Toews sustained the injury in the second period of his second NHL pre-season game when he blocked a shot against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I had never broken any single bone before," said Toews, who hopes to suit up tomorrow night in the Blackhawks home opener against the Detroit Red Wings or next Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks. "(His NHL debut) is something I've been waiting for for a long time. It's a special night and you want it to go right."

Toews had a strong support group last night as his parents, Bryan and Andree, made the drive up and brought Jonathan's brother David, who goes to school at Shattuck-St. Mary's in nearby Faribault, Minn., along with them.

"Yeah, it's disappointing Jonathan didn't play, but I just told him to get healthy. That's the most important thing," said David, who has committed to attending the University of North Dakota next season to play hockey for the Fighting Sioux.

Bryan and Andree are planning to watch David play tonight, then drive up to Chicago tomorrow for the Blackhawks game.


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