Toews brings Cup back to Winnipeg
And on the third day, Jonathan Toews tried to catch his breath.
The Chicago Blackhawks captain was almost at a loss for words as he described an emotional 48 hours in his native Winnipeg, where the Conn Smythe Trophy winner was feted Monday and Tuesday like few others before him in the city.
"It was unreal," Toews told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
A key to the city from the mayor; a lake named after him; thousands of fans showing up for his Stanley Cup parade; his charity golf tournament raising more money than he would have ever guessed; and, finally, his childhood hockey arena being renamed in his honor.
"That's something I never expected," said Toews. "That was really awesome and obviously a huge honor."
His charity golf tournament Monday raised more than $100,000 for the local children's rehab center, which helps kids with disabilities. That meant a lot to him. After visiting the center, he went to the local children's hospital with the Stanley Cup and had to fight back the lump in his throat.
"You don't do that every day and it was pretty shocking to see some of these kids and how sick they are and how much it meant to them that we went," Toews said. "They see the Cup and their eyes light up pretty good. Some of them are pretty tired and sick in bed, but they muster as much energy as they can to take a picture. It was really cool."
On Sunday, thousands lined up the streets for his Cup parade.
"That was amazing. I didn't think it was going to turn out that well," said Toews. "People just kept showing up. Some were there from 8 a.m. waiting."
The two magical days in his hometown were the final chapter to a 2009-10 season that featured an Olympic gold medal, being named top forward at the Vancouver Games, a Stanley Cup and NHL playoff MVP honors. "This was the cap to everything,'' he said.
Now comes reality: going back to a Chicago Blackhawks team missing several faces from the Cup-champion squad. And more moves may come after the team matched Niklas Hjalmarsson's offer sheet Monday.
"I spoke to Andrew Ladd yesterday for the first time since he was traded," Toews said. "I wanted to give him and all the boys [who were traded] some space. Obviously, they're dealing with a lot right now. But I guess, at the same time, we'll be looking to getting together as a team at the end of the month at the [July 30-Aug. 1 Blackhawks] convention in Chicago. We'll be missing some good friends and good teammates, but we knew that was going to happen. We're dealing with it the best we can."