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Toews welcomes hometown Jets

by Kristi Hennessy / Winnipeg Jets
If Jonathan Toews had a bucket list, most would agree that he’s ticked off three of the toughest on the list, all by age 23. 

Jonathan Toews lifts the Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Blackhawks.
He’s lifted a Stanley Cup won an Olympic gold medal and was named the second youngest player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (behind Patrick Roy) all in the year 2010.

One thing the Winnipeg native is yet to tick off his list is to play the team that he idolized growing up. The team that inspired him to become an NHL super star. That box will be checked off tonight, as the Winnipeg Jets are set to face-off against the Blackhawks in Chicago. (TSN national, TSN radio 1290)

The young captain was flipping channels last Sunday afternoon and noticed the Winnipeg Jets season-opener against the Montreal Canadiens. He couldn’t resist tuning in to watch the team he once loved.

Blackhawks players Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith win Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2010.
"I didn't see any of the pre-game shows, started watching near the end of the first period when I got home," Toews told the Winnipeg Free Press Thursday in Chicago. "It was fun to watch. Those players are definitely excited, that city is excited.

"We've got to be ready for a tough team because they're going to have a lot of legs and a lot of energy but most of all, the pressure of that home opener is going to be off them and they know they can just go play now. It's not going to be an easy game for us."

Thursday’s game marks the only meeting between the two teams but that could very well change for next season as there have been many assumptions that the Winnipeg Jets will move to the Central Division in the Western Conference bumping the Detroit Red Wings into the East. If that were to happen, Toews and the Blackhawks may be getting an early glimpse of what could become a new rivalry.

 “Before you know it, we could be going there a lot,” Toews told the Winnipeg Sun on Wednesday. “There are pros and cons to everything. The pro would be not having to deal with Detroit on a regular basis but it’s great for our fans and great for that rivalry. It keeps us in check as a team as Detroit has always been a measuring point.

“Personally, I wouldn’t mind playing against Winnipeg but you learn to kind of dislike playing against your division rivals.”

When asked his opinion of the new Jets look, Toews had nothing but positive things to say.
“I think it's pretty awesome," he said. "I don't really know what people are thinking about that jersey and logo in Winnipeg, whether they like it or not, but all those things have fallen into place with them renaming them the Jets. I think they did a great job. It's not my team, but as an outsider looking in, it's pretty cool to see that tradition restored."

The Blackhawks made an early first-round exit from the playoffs last season when they dropped Game 7 in overtime to the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, leaving a bad taste in Chicago for everyone. Toews said when you have a long off-season like they did, you miss the game so much, and you’re just so excited to get back at it.

"It's only three games into the year so you're pumped up and excited but this will be one of those games you'll be trying to make something happen for sure," Toews said.

“We know we're going to have a feisty opponent with Winnipeg, coming off their first game, too."

This game will be special for Toews and his entire family as both his parents-Bryan Toews and Andree Gilbert — will be in the United Center to watch their son take on their hometown Jets.  Toews’ brother David, who was acquired by the Blackhawks in the off-season from the NY Islanders, will also be in attendance for the game Thursday as he is now playing in Rockford, Il with Chicago's AHL team.

"They wouldn't miss it, it’s a special game for sure" said Toews.

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