CHICAGO – Jonathan Toews has only had three fights in his young career, but the last one left its mark on his right eye.
Toews, a highly-skilled center and captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, scrapped with San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton in the first period of a 4-1 Chicago win at United Center on Friday. He wound up taking a few shots from the much-taller Thornton, but felt like he proved his point regardless.
"I think there’s times where you have to assert yourself and stand up for yourself and I think that’s all it was," Toews said. "You’re not going to see me do that very often and I haven’t in my career. But it is part of the game, and maybe [I did it] for that reason … that you want to buy your time and space and respect out on the ice. I guess that’s something you kind of have to do to prove you deserve it, I guess."
Toews reiterated that it wasn’t a direct result of rough play by Thornton a year ago that many presumed to be the initial cause of a lengthy concussion for the Blackhawks top center.
"I’m not ever going to make anything personal like that, but whenever there is a lot of stuff going on after the whistle and during the game, I want to go out there and play my game," Toews said. "And if I have someone on me all the time, I guess that’s what I have to do is stand up for myself. That’s all I was thinking about [Friday] night."
Some of his teammates were thinking they might actually be in a dream sequence rather than reality.
"He’s got a black eye and fat lip," star forward Patrick Sharp said. "It’s a new look for him. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fight. It was entertaining and it’s going to be funny seeing him walking around with a black eye for a while."
Patrick Kane was also a little stunned to see the fight transpire.
"I saw them kind of whacking each other earlier in the shift and then I saw them drop the gloves," said Kane, who played on Thornton’s team in Switzerland during the League’s work stoppage and gotto know him pretty well. "I figured it was [Toews]. You’ve got give him credit. I think those two had it out for each other for some reason, whatever it may be, but it was good to see him do that."