Coming off of a tremendous year, very few have had better, it was pretty darn obvious that there was nowhere for Jonathan Toews to go but down heading into the 2010-11 season. Captain Marvel, Serious, Awesome, or maybe you prefer Tazer (don't taze me bro); whatever you want to call him, Toews had accomplished in a single season at the age of 22 what few players do in a lifetime. It is fitting to end the player evals with our beloved captain. He is the face of the Hawks, the will, the drive, the tenacity, the backbone and he will carry this team on his back if necessary. It can be easily argued that he did just that, racking up more points than any other NHL player during the months of January through March when the Hawks made their run for the playoffs and needed it the most.
The most brilliant example of his ability to carry his team came very late in the last game the Hawks would play last season. Game 7, under 2 minutes left to play, short handed, having a rough game all around, and Toews does the impossible. Driving to the net through 3 defenders, and literally willing his way through the last one, he miraculously ends up scoring from his knees after Hossa was able to pick up Toews' puck and get a backhander on net. If you haven't watched it in a while, go watch it on Youtube. It quite literally does not get any better than that. Oh, and on top of that, Toews lead the team in game-winning goals.
In a season when the good had to be better, Toews stepped his game up in more areas than one and he learned a few lessons along the way. One of his locker-room rants after a tough period against the St. Louis Blues in February, in which Toews asked for better from his team stands as the turning point in a drowning season. And if you think that scoring huge clutch goals is all he can do, just take a gander at his plus 25 rating in last year's stats. Toews can shut down the best of them and then bring it offensively for a killer combo while also dominating in faceoffs. I can't imagine many players being more respected or feared to play against in the league. The performance earned him a Selke nomination.
It is sometimes hard to remember just how young Toews is. He still has much to learn, a simple fact that makes him even more dangerous, because learn he will. Is there any player that symbolizes such an eagerness to compete and build on previous mistakes? One could point a finger at his lackluster starts to a season, choosing to boom mostly after the allstar break. Me, I don't really count it against him too much, but it is an area that he can build on, which might lead him to stellar point productions in the process. Some may also see him as an immature leader. I see the merit in that stance, but again turn to look at his lead by example mentality.
When it is all said and done, I have a really hard time pointing any negative fingers at Toews, they are mostly fingers saying, "did you see that, or, I can't believe that just happened." His performance from this past season has earned him a solid grade of an A. I attribute most of the success the Hawks managed to find last year to Toews. Without him, they would have been lost. There is not a single player who has more of an impact on their game.