Last season, rookie Jonathan Toews
was known by teammates as “Mr. Serious.” This season, thanks to being named the third-youngest captain ever in the National Hockey League, his nickname’s been upgraded: The Winnipeg native is now known as “Captain Serious.”
“I love it when I hear him called ‘Captain Serious’ because it’s so true,” says his mom, Andrée Gilbert. “Just recently I read an article quoting the hockey coach from Shattuck-St. Mary’s who coached both my sons.He said that hockey-wise they’re very similar, but Jonathan plans his days three or four years ahead of time, and David [drafted by the New York Islanders this year] flies by the seat of his pants. Jonathan’s been serious and dedicated since he was very young.”
So dedicated, in fact, that wearing the ‘C’ isn’t a new thing for 20-year-old Jonathan. He captained Team Canada squads at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge; Under-18 World Junior Cup; and Under-20 World Junior Championship, where he led Canada to a gold medal while earning All-Tournament honors. At the University of North Dakota, he was the youngest assistant captain ever. Pretty much from age 11 on, if there was a ‘C’ to be worn Jonathan often wore it, says his dad, Bryan Toews.
“Even as a youngster he was so well respected by teammates,” says the elder Toews, who coached Jonathan until age 10 and, like his son, is humble and soft-spoken. “They knew he came to the rink and worked hard, but he never walked around boasting despite his success. We always instilled what any parent would: that you should be a good person first, and everything else is gravy.”
The Hawks center has another explanation for why he tends to be in charge: “I guess I have that independent nature, and I’m stubborn and hard-headed in a way that if I get an idea I’m going to do it,” says Jonathan. “Maybe it rubs off on people as well. My mom always bugs me because I’ve never really had a job in my life until I came to the NHL. So there are a lot of things I need to learn because being a leader for a hockey team goes beyond the locker room.”
Whatever Jonathan did as a youngster, adds Bryan, he wanted to do it the best he could. “If someone was catching him, he’d work that much harder. He’s always had the heart, mind and work ethic to move ahead.”
At age 9, for example, Jonathan spent hours in the family basement shooting hundreds of pucks at five targets. “He’d sweat buckets, and you could hear him banging his stick if he missed. We told him he wasn’t allowed to bang his stick on the ice though,” adds Bryan. “We always taught him to have good sportsmanship.”
At his first pro hockey game, four-year-old Jonathan refused to leave his seat with his dad to buy treats. “He said no — he just wanted to watch the game,” says Bryan. “He already had that keen interest.”
Read the full article in Blackhawks Magazine, available now at all Blackhawks home games.