Via Chicago Breaking Sports, Jonathan Toews excited his hometown crowd in Winnipeg in the Blackhawks’ first preseason game by scoring the Hawks’ second goal of the exhibition season, but it wasn’t enough and Tampa Bay won 4-2:
The crowd was 1,000 short of a sellout, but those who did show up cheered on Toews, their hometown hero, who was playing his first meaningful game in Winnipeg since he was 15.
Consdering the heck of a year Toews had last winter, it wasn’t surprising to see No. 19 jerseys all over the downtown Winnipeg arena. The Lightning were technically the home team, but the crowd made it clear they were cheering for Toews and the defending Stanley Cup champs.
“He’s pretty big,” Winnipegger Tony Jensen, sporting a Toews Team Canada jersey, said before the game. “Forget (Sidney) Crosby, and forget everybody else. It’s Toews. It’s all Jonathan.”
Toews, who had secure more than 30 tickets for family and friends, had a regular shift against the Lightning, getting more than 12 minutes of action through two periods.
Marty Turco played the first 30 minutes in goal, allowing one goal with 14 saves, and Hannu Toivonen finished up, with 11 saves but three goals allowed. Patrick Sharp scored the other goal for the Blackhawks.
Those who coached Toews say his serious demeanor comes from his parents, Bryan Toews and Andree Gilbert. His parents aren't so sure. Bryan and Andree each admit to being "pretty serious" as individuals, but they maintain Toews was naturally competitive and driven to do well at everything he did, not just hockey. He took everything seriously.
"In kindergarten on one occasion they were drawing and he ... was pretty good at it," Bryan said. "The teacher said there was a lot of chaos going on in the class. [But] Jon was just focused on what he wanted to draw. He could shut everything else off around him."
"Whatever he was doing, he could just concentrate," Andree said. "He tried to become good at everything."
"It means a lot," Toews said Tuesday at Johnny's IceHouse West. "I haven't been home to play in a real hockey game in a long time. I think fans back home are excited to watch some NHL hockey ... and I think [the fans] are really excited to see the Blackhawks with a couple of Winnipeggers out there on the ice."
The match will be the seventh NHL preseason game in Winnipeg and the fourth at the MTS Centre since the Jets packed up their sticks and pucks and headed south.
Here is the Hawks' traveling roster for tonight's game: