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Toews-Kane EA NHL 11 duel? Toews wants rematch

by Dan Rosen / Chicago Blackhawks

-- Patrick Kane threw a hook, and it was "down went Toews, down went Toews." The Blackhawks captain fell like a stone and Kane erupted, throwing his arms up in the air and letting out a few "woo hoos."

Kane, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound artist on the ice, has never been in an NHL fight. But in NHL 11 from EA Sports, the 21-year-old from Buffalo apparently is a brawler. At least, that's what he was Wednesday afternoon when he squared off against Chicago teammate Jonathan Toews, this year's EA NHL 11 cover boy, at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in midtown Manhattan.

The four inches and roughly 30 pounds Kane was surrendering to Toews didn't matter. This was no sucker punch that dropped Toews to the ice, his helmet unstrapping and soaring off his head as he went down like a chopped tree.

"That's probably how it would happen in real life," Kane joked to "Thankfully for him he doesn't have to fight me."

Toews, who was in town with Kane to promote the launch of the latest edition in the EA Sports NHL series, was practically heartbroken. Of all people, it had to be Kane who took him down. That's a tough one to live with if you're No. 19 for the Chicago Blackhawks and just about everything you do, in some form or another, gets linked to Kane.

"I was pressing the wrong buttons, so my guy didn't throw a punch and I just got knocked out by Patrick Kane," Toews told, stressing his teammate's name as if to assume complete shock and awe. "I don't know how that happens. I'm embarrassed. It ruined the whole day.

"We'll have to have a rematch."

The odds of that happening are pretty good. Competition, especially in the gaming world, fuels the inner rivalry between Kane and Toews, the Blackhawks' duo that has been linked since their rapid rise onto the NHL scene three seasons ago.

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NHL 11 is just another outlet for them to play their endless game of "Anything you can do I can do better?"

"There is more incentive now to play this game and get really good at it," Toews said.

He had that same incentive last season when Kane was the cover boy for NHL 10 for EA Sports. Kane said he quietly thinks Toews still holds a grudge.

"We've been together with a lot of different things, and I remember when he found out that I was going to be on the cover of NHL 10, he was like, 'That's awesome, congrats,'" Kane recalled. "But, we were in the room tying our skates and he looks over to me and is like, 'Why are you on the cover? Why am I not on the cover?' "

A year later, Toews -- feeling better now that he, too, has graced the cover -- has the answer.

"I think they knew the better game was going to be in 2011, they were projecting that so they were waiting to save the best for that year," he quipped.

If by "best" he also meant on the Blackhawks, Toews is right -- according to EA Sports. He has an overall ranking of 89 in NHL 11, while Kane is an 87. Toews loves it. The higher ranking, the more valuable the player.

"It's a huge difference," joked the captain. "When you're building your ultimate dream team, who are you going to pick, an 89 or an 87? I think it's pretty obvious."

Kane said he doesn't care about the rankings. He lets the game do the talking, and when he played NHL 10 he would find himself yelling at Toews to get him the puck. He expects to file similar complaints when he gets into playing NHL 11.

"There are a lot of times when I'm like, 'C'mon Toews, c'mon.' But when you're playing it you're controlling him so you can't really get that mad," Kane said with a laugh. "But, if I'm watching someone else play I'll definitely say that, 'C'mon, Toews.' I'd be yelling at him on the bench if it was a real game."

Toews, of course, has an answer for his buddy (when doesn't he?).

"Yeah, well, maybe he should teach himself to go get the puck once in a while," he fired back.

All joking aside, NHL 11 -- and the entire EA Sports NHL series -- have influenced both Toews and Kane. Each said his first hockey video game was NHL 97 (both were 9 years old at the time). Now that they are cover boys -- well, it's all too surreal.

"I think one of the moments about making it to the NHL that really stuck out to me is seeing yourself in a video game," Kane said. "You don't have to create yourself anymore in the game, and that's pretty sweet."

Kane used to create his likeness, jack up all his attributes to a 99 (the highest possible ranking in the game) and dangle his way through guys like Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Brian Leetch and Ray Bourque.

"I always played with the teams that I thought had the coolest jerseys," he said.

Now he likes to play the franchise mode where he can trade players, operate with the salary cap, and do all the things Chicago GM Stan Bowman is tasked with doing in real life. His virtual reality, though, only goes so far.

Kane is afraid to approach Bowman to talk about the moves he made for his Blackhawks on a video game.

"He would look at me like I had three heads," Kane cracked.
Toews wouldn't. He's an X-generation gamer just like No. 88, and he also created his likeness in the old EA NHL games. He would put himself on either the Winnipeg Jets or the L.A. Kings (he was a big Wayne Gretzky fan).

"Who would have thought just by playing hockey that I would have these opportunities to be on a cover of a video game?" Toews said. "This is one of the cool perks about being a professional hockey player."

Now that EA has added teams and players from the CHL in NHL 11, Toews has some friends who, like he was back in 2008, are through the roof excited about getting their likeness in a video game.

"Yeah, but I have to remind them who is on the cover of the game," he said. "That's one of the things that reminds me that I'm there, I made it, the dream came true."

For Kane, too. Hey, how many people can also say they knocked out Jonathan Toews with one punch?

"I can't believe that happened," Toews said. "I let him win in a video game, I guess."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | Staff Writer

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