Usually, “Three Hawks Hits” gives you a summary of the game and three observations from Jay, Greg, and Mario. Yes, Friday’s game had implications for the Draft Lottery, but it was also the end of an era. Once we officially learned that tonight was Jonathan Toews’ final game in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform, we quickly decided to dedicate this post to the greatest captain in team history. So, instead of each of us giving you an observation from tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, we will share our favorite Toews memory.
Greg’s Hit: Game 7 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals
Of all the amazing moments Toews gave us over the past 16 seasons, Game 7 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals sticks out the most. The Anaheim Ducks built a 3-2 series lead after winning Game 5 in overtime. The Blackhawks forced a seventh and final game with a 5-2 win at the United Center two nights later.
Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf were using their physical brand of hockey to try and bully the Blackhawks, and they actually thought it was working. Kesler gave his famous “No human can withstand that many hits” quote after Game 4, but that came back to bite him.
Toews scored the opening goal at the 2:23 mark and doubled the lead with a power-play tally nine minutes later. That was it; game over.
Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa added goals in the second period to increase the lead to 4-0 before the Ducks found the back of the net. The Blackhawks won the game 5-3 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in six seasons. It was Toews who set the tone early and made sure the Ducks never had a shot at winning. When No. 19 wanted to shut you down, he shut you down.
Jay’s Hit: Jonathan Toews’ 2nd career goal vs Colorado
Yes, Jonathan Toews has scored more important and meaningful goals in his career, but this goal was an arrival. An arrival for Toews, an arrival for the franchise, and an arrival for long-suffering Chicago fans.
Avalanche analyst Peter McNab nailed the description. “This is the kind of talent that can bring a franchise back from the dead.”
He was right.
Of all 372 of his goals, this was still the most electrifying.
Mario’s Hit: Captain Moonwalk
It’s hard to pick just one Toews memory that sticks out as my favorite. Like trying to pick my favorite slice of pizza I’ve ever had. They’re all great.
Toews came into our lives as Blackhawks fans in 2006 and hit the ice in Chicago in 2007. Things were different instantly. He was a special player and a different type of guy at an early age. He became one of the youngest captains in the NHL ever and ends his career with the Blackhawks as one of the five longest-serving captains with one team in NHL history. He was “Captain Serious.”
That name stuck with him his whole career, something he never thought represented him, but once something sticks, it sticks. You say “Captain Serious” to anyone in Chicago, and they know who you are talking about. But it was a moment not in a game that sticks out to me.
Following the 17 seconds comeback against the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Toews and a few teammates hit the ice after the locker room celebration to continue the party. With the Comcast Sports cameras rolling, Toews was seen dancing and moonwalking at center ice. A side of the young Captain and, at the time, two-time Stanley Cup Champion we hadn’t really seen before. It was a glimpse of the player off the ice and a glimpse of the human side of athletes.
They’re all just big kids playing a game.
Every goal, every highlight, they all make up the memories and legacy of Toews with Chicago. But for me, seeing that side of him and breaking the illusion of this all-business, all-the-time guy was one of my favorite moments.