In his five plus seasons as a Blackhawk, there has been very little, if anything, to criticize about Jonathan Toews. Since his arrival in 2007, he’s been everything a fan, coach, or teammate could want in a player. He remains the best all around and most important player on the team, and perhaps one of the top 3-4 overall players in the NHL. His value to the team can not be measured in goals, assists or any other numbered stats. He’s their MVP every night, regardless of what the box score says.
That’s exactly why I hated what he did Friday night.
While the Hawks were dispatching the suddenly ordinary Sharks (4-1), San Jose’s captain, Joe Thornton, was getting under Toews’ skin. Their animosity goes back to last season , when Thornton punched Toews after a play. That punch is believed to be the cause of Toews’ concussion. The same concussion that caused the captain to miss 22 games. Toews didn’t forget that punch.
In the first period, after crosschecking Thornton behind the Hawks’ net, Toews got what he wanted and dropped the gloves with Thornton. Whether he won or lost the fight (he lost) doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that the Blackhawks’ concussion prone captain couldn’t control his emotions against a known agitator, and could have cost his team severely. And I’m not referring to the power play goal against kind of damage…I’m talking about the “I just took a punch to the face, and I’m concussed again” kind of damage.
While I’m hardly a vocal supporter of fighting in hockey, I know it has a value to the players. They feel a fight can swing momentum. They feel it shows camaraderie and can bring a team closer together. I’m not here to argue with them, or argue the value of a fight. If the players believe it, it must show some sort of immeasurable result on the ice, right? Sure. I’ll buy that. I actually thought Duncan Keith was in the right when he went after San Jose’s Andrew Desjardins for what Keith felt was a dirty hit on February 5th. But Toews specifically, with his value and injury history, need to rise above the agitators and antagonists and play the game. If Thornton must be “dealt with”, there are players whose job it is to deliver that justice.
The “MVP” has no “V” when he’s sitting in the penalty box, or even worse, the press box.