Jonathan Toews seems to be regarded as an overrated and a not-so-great player by fans all over the league. It all started when he was named amongst the NHL Top 100 this past January. Of the one hundred inducted, only six were active players. Despite the fact that the NHL should have had more spots for current players, Toews’ credentials and achievements landed him on the list.
Toews has won three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, two Olympic gold medals, a World Cup gold medal, and a Selke. It’s easy to see why he was selected in the Top 100 with a resume like that, but many fans were caught up in the present. Toews’ production levels have dipped in the past few seasons, and this gives fans an easy reason to write him off. However, being a great player doesn’t necessarily mean scoring the most points.
The low production levels can easily be attributed to the constantly rotating line of rookies playing with him. Many people say that Richard Panik’s success is largely due to playing on a line with Toews. Panik went from playing on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL team to playing on the top line for the Chicago Blackhawks. You can’t claim Panik’s greatness is a result of playing with Toews while, in the same breath, saying Toews isn’t a great player.
Jonathan Toews’ low scoring can also be attributed to his playing style. He’s one of the best two-way fowards and playmakers in the league right now. Toews has 56 game-winning goals in the regular season, tying him with Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Zetterberg for 10th most since the 2005-2006 season, and everyone above him besides Malkin has played far more games than him. So even with his low production, he’s still scoring when it truly matters.
To continue defending Toews, his leadership has always been on another level than most other captains in the league. Obviously, that’s not something that can be measured. Statistically speaking, it’s impossible to tell if players on his team are actually impacted by his captaining, but when they say they are, you have to start taking their word for it.
“There are guys who lead on the ice and there are guys who lead in the dressing room — he does both,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said in 2013. “He’s the prototypical captain that you want on your team. His demeanor and the way he cares, his passion and his commitment to hockey rubs off on not only younger guys but older guys too.”
“This is not like Disney when [a] guy stands up in the dressing room and talks to us like we are kids,” Keith said during the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals. “He’s a guy who is very focused and very driven. He’s passionate about hockey. I think because he is so passionate and driven it leads to his success on the ice. I think guys take note of that.”
“He makes people around him better … (and) more competitive,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. “The way he finds ways to be successful individually and collectively is what probably makes him go better than any player.”
Jonathan Toews is a great player and this should be acknowledged. How great? Greater than who? That’s always up for discussion, but to dismiss him solely based on the points he puts up and to compare him to other players who do not play a similar style of hockey as him is ridiculous.