LAS VEGAS — Honors and awards are nothing new for Jonathan Toews, whose trophy case is awfully full. But his latest piece of hardware almost left him speechless.
The Blackhawks captain won the Mark Messier Leadership Award on Wednesday, honored by the legendary Oilers and Rangers captain for his efforts on the ice and in the community. It’s the first time Toews has won the award, which has been around since 2007.
“It’s hard for me to believe, and it’s almost something you feel bashful [about],” Toews said with Messier beaming beside him. “It’s something you don’t feel worthy of. It’s an incredible honor. You have so many people you want to express thanks to, and it’s a pretty special moment, obviously, to be chosen by this man. And obviously I want to keep doing what I’m doing, I guess, if it’s working out this well. Pretty cool right now.”
Messier said Toews was “working towards this moment for a long time.”
“I think Jonathan is very authentic in his initiatives in charities, and the kids that he works with,” Messier said. “And what can you say about what’s happened on the ice for the Blackhawks? It all started with Jonathan coming in there, taking over the leadership role. And good things have followed ever since.”
Toews was 1-for-2 on the night, as Patrice Bergeron won his third Selke Trophy in four seasons, beating out Toews in a close vote. Bergeron had 75 first-place votes in the Professional Hockey Writers Associating balloting, and 1,083 total points. Toews had 51 first-place votes and 1,051 points. The Kings’ Anze Kopitar was a distant third, and Marian Hossa was seventh.
“It can go either way,” Toews said. “You’re surrounded by so many great players. It’s been a couple years running now that I’ve been surrounded with Patrice and Anze. Whether I won or not, I’m happy to be here and honored for that. Patrice is very deserving, obviously, with what he’s meant to his team in previous years and he’s won a Stanley Cup; he knows what it takes to win. So I think being surrounded by guys like that definitely adds to the prestige.”
Toews was fifth in the NHL with a plus-30 rating during the regular season, posting 28 goals and 38 assists. He was sixth in faceoff percentage at 56.5 percent, and the Hawks controlled nearly 56 percent of shot attempts with him on the ice.
Duncan Keith was seventh in the Norris Trophy voting for best defenseman, as Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson joined him as the only active two-time winners. Stan Bowman was 10th in the GM of the Year voting, Corey Crawford was sixth in the Vezina voting, Patrick Kane was 10th in the Lady Byng voting, and Joel Quenneville didn’t garner any votes for the Jack Adams.
As for Toews, as Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang said, he’ll gladly take the three Stanley Cups over any individual awards. But the Hawks captain has earned the respect of his teammates and opponents alike for his 200-foot game.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “And he does it in both ends of the ice. … Offensively, I still think he’s one of the top five players in the league, without a doubt. He’s a very special player. [He and Kopitar] both take a lot of pride in the defensive game. They know that in order to have a winning team, your top players need to play that good defensive style of game. Yeah, they could have more points and put up the points some of the other guys put up, but they don’t.”