I’m not against fighting in hockey.
I’m against Jonathan Toews fighting in hockey. Or anywhere else.
The Blackhawks pay Toews an average of $10.5 million a year because he has a set of skills that very few hockey players on earth possess. None of those talents – skating, defending, scoring and leading – has anything to do with pummeling an opponent. Toews might be more than capable of protecting himself and his teammates with his fists, but one punch from an opposing player is capable of taking away all those other things he does so well.
It’s why the Hawks need to tell him that under no circumstance is he to drop the gloves again.
Toews had two fights in November and was ready to fight Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler last week before officials got between them. This from a guy who had three career fights coming into the season.
Professional athletes are commodities. They are investments. They are paid a lot of money for different reasons. Some hockey players are paid for their scoring, others are paid for their willingness to do the dirty work. You don’t want your Bentley, if you have one, competing in a demolition derby. And you don’t want your best two-way player looking for fights in a league full of players happy to oblige him.
I don’t know what’s behind Toews’ recent need to fight. Maybe he’s sick of getting thwacked by opponents’ sticks. Maybe he’s standing up for teammates on a club lacking an enforcer. Maybe he wants to be a latter-day Gordie Howe.
What I do know is that Toews has a history of concussions. He missed a long stretch of the 2011-12 season with a concussion, which was the second of his NHL career. And I know that bare knuckles on skulls are not good for brains that have known fogginess before.
We already know Toews is a tough guy. We don’t need further proof.