The waiting is the hardest part for Bryan Toews and Andree Gilbert.
Much like their superstar son, the proud parents of Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews are eagerly awaiting Saturday’s first game of the Stanley Cup final.
“There’s some pretty exciting stuff going on,” said Bryan Toews, who has taken in two home games per series and will be in the United Center on Saturday for the opener. “It’s unbelievable to be this close.”
The Blackhawks’ captain, who was born and raised in south St. Vital, has his team four victories away from capturing their first Stanley Cup since 1961 and fans in the Windy City are hopeful the longest drought in the NHL will come to a close at some point over the next two weeks.
“It’s amazing,” Gilbert said from Ottawa, where she’s attending a conference before catching a plane for Chicago on Sunday. “Who thought this would happen so fast? It’s only Jonathan’s third season in the NHL.”
Gilbert caught two games in person during the series with the Nashville Predators, but work commitments kept her from seeing any live games against the Vancouver Canucks or San Jose Sharks.
“I promised Jonathan that if he made it to the final, there was nothing on earth that would make me miss that,” said Gilbert.
Toews and Gilbert were in Vancouver to see Jonathan capture an Olympic gold, but the atmosphere around Chicago has been similar.
“We experienced the Olympics, which was obviously second to none but this is right there as far as noise and excitement,” said Bryan. “It’s not the whole country behind you win or lose. It’s different, but it’s equally exciting when you’re in that moment.”
The chance to win Olympic gold and raise Lord Stanley’s mug in the same season is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
To see Jonathan leading the playoffs in scoring and being mentioned as a strong candidate to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup playoff MVP fills Bryan’s heart with pride.
“It’s hard to explain,” said Bryan. “We’re so proud. When you think about it, you get emotional about it. We know how hard he works and how much he believes in himself and what he can do.
“He’s not a flashy player, he’s doing all these little things right. As parents, you always want your kids to have success. This playoff, he’s been rewarded a fair amount. We feel he deserves (the success) because of what he puts into it. He does make a lot of sacrifices and it’s nice to see him get something back.
“I sure hope we can see him hoist that Cup. Until it happens, we’ll sort of leave it in the back of our minds.”
All this playoff success caused Bryan to take some time to reflect on Jonathan’s days as a budding hockey player.
“He’s been given that Captain Serious mantle and he had that same serious face when he was six or seven-years-old,” said Bryan. “He was only seven, but it meant the world to him to win. I’ve seen the same look in his face then as I do now. We’ve recollected about him being on that backyard rink. We knew what his dreams were but we didn’t know where it was going to go.”
Toews, the third overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, is four victories away from supplanting Sidney Crosby as the youngest captain to ever lead his team to the Stanley Cup.
“It’s all about the big prize at the end,” said Gilbert. “I would love to see his gold medal inside the Stanley Cup (this summer), let’s put it that way. We might even put it out on the front lawn.
“That would be awesome. But we’re taking a page out of Jonathan’s book. It’s one game at a time and you’ve got to win the next one.”