Superstar expected in Winnipeg

ROSS ROMANIUK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The Stanley Cup win for Jonathan Toews is also a victory for many others in his hometown, as Winnipeg looks ahead to celebrating the Chicago Blackhawks captain’s return.

At Dakota Community Centre, where the 22-year-old Toews first strapped on skates, managers spent much of Thursday fielding phone calls and e-mails from fans inquiring about the superstar player’s likely arrival with the Cup in the coming weeks.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get 10,000 people here,” Jacques Levesque, general manager of the St. Vital-area complex, said the day after Toews and the Blackhawks won the Cup.

“We’re anxiously waiting to see if and when it will happen, so we can get organized and run something proper.”

To celebrate Toews’ NHL championship and his Olympic gold medal, Dakota officials are in discussions with artists on a plan to paint a large mural depicting his achievements on an outside wall of the Dakota Street building.

“We’re still in negotiations on who is going to do it,” Levesque said, noting Toews has won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable Stanley Cup playoff performer after being named best forward at the Olympics in February.

“It’s not every day that we have someone who has won as many championships as this guy has won. And he’s only 22. It feels like we’re talking about someone who is 40.”

Dakota facility manager Bob Saelens, who coached Toews at age seven and nine, said the Cup win has made the community proud of not only the player himself, but his family.

“It’s nice to see him hoist that Cup, knowing how hard he’s worked for it and how much the family has committed over the years to have him get to that level,” he said.

Also emerging a winner in Chicago’s first NHL championship since 1961 is Mayor Sam Katz, who had made a bet with Len Compton, mayor of Kenora, Ont., before the final series.

Katz had wagered the Toews-led Hawks would defeat the Flyers, captained by Kenora native Mike Richards. At stake was a weekend of fishing hosted by the loser of the bet.

“I get a lovely fishing trip to Kenora. It’s a win-win,” Katz said of Toews’ championship, also citing Blackhawks assistant captains Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith — both, like Toews, born in Winnipeg.

“It was so great to see them carry around that Stanley Cup,” Katz said. “The best team won, and it was a great series.”

Levesque pointed out that when Derek Meech, another former Dakota player, did a meet-and-greet with the Stanley Cup after winning it with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008, at least 2,000 people showed up.

If and when Toews arrives with the trophy, autographs might not be possible, he said.

“That might be a little too much,” he said. “We want to put as many people through as we can to get pictures with the Cup. I don’t think autographs will happen that particular day. We want everyone to get a chance.”

ross.romaniuk@sunmedia.ca

More Toews, see page S1


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