"When we were taking about it, Sidney wanted to make sure it was OK with him, just for the fact he won a couple of Cups,” Babcock told reporters after the Wings' morning skate on Wednesday. "He's held in high regard, to say the least, and he's a huge part of the reason why they win as much as they do."
There's no denying that Jonathan Toews is part of the engine that drives the Chicago Blackhawks. His intensity on the ice has earned him the moniker of "Captain Serious", and his drive to be better as he pursues a third Stanley Cup is relentless. In short, Toews demands a lot of himself in helping the team be better. If he was one of the choices to be the captain of Team Canada, that says a lot about the Winnipegger's game and how much the coaches respect what he brings to the ice.
"He's earned the right to be a captain with Canada: two Cups, Olympic gold," Babcock said of Toews. "I don't know what else he's won. It seems more than that. He's a pro who does it right every day. He's a 200-footer. To me, he's an impressive, impressive man."
That comment alone tells you how much Team Canada's head coach values the work ethic and skill that Toews brings to the ice nightly. To be a "200-footer" shows that Toews will be relied upon heavily in Sochi to carry this team, not unlike how he was relied upon in Vancouver to play tough at both ends of the ice. Toews is Canada's best two-way forward heading into the Olympic Games, and this validation from both the coach and arguably Canada's best player is another accolade Toews seems to sheepishly accept.
"For Sidney to ask guys for approval, I don't think he needed to do that, but it shows the kind of guy he is," Toews said. "Everybody knows Sidney is the guy. I'm just honored to be in the conversation for the captaincy. One way or the other, I'm excited to accept a role like that. If it's more of a leadership role, I'm excited for the challenge."
I'm not here to say that Jonathan Toews should be captain and Sidney Crosby should not. Crosby was a major part of the Olympic gold medal in Vancouver, and he should be given consideration as the team's leader in Sochi after leading the Penguins over the last four years to one of the best records over that time. He is arguably the best player on the planet, so Crosby as captain shouldn't be any surprise given his past performance at the Olympics and his body of work since those Games.
However, Jonathan Toews has put together a pretty impressive resumé since the Vancouver Olympics as well. Toews was named to the Olympic All-Star team in 2010, was named as the tournament's best forward, and certainly played a large role in helping Canada win the Olympic gold medal. He then led his team, the Chicago Blackhawks, to a Stanley Cup in 2010 while being named as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner before adding a second Stanley Cup ring to his credentials in 2013. He's the second-youngest youngest Conn Smythe Trophy winner ever, and the youngest captain to win the trophy. Finally, he was the 2013 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner as the best defensive forward in the NHL.
In short, Toews has had a pretty impressive four years since the last Olympiad. It's a pretty classy move by Sidney Crosby to recognize that Jonathan Toews might be an equal candidate for the captaincy of the Canadian Olympic team and to seek Toews' approval for the captaincy. While most may say that Crosby is a no-brainer in being named captain, it shows the level of respect that Jonathan Toews has earned within the hockey community to be sought out for his approval on this decision by his peers.
Respect: it is earned, not given. And Jonathan Toews has the ultimate respect from his coaches, his peers, and this writer. Well done, Jonathan!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!