Toews' mom knows how he grew up to become Captain Serious

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Andree Toews holds younger son David as her husband, Bryan, sits behind their hockey-loving oldest child, Jonathan, long before he became captain of the Blackhawks.

    Andree Toews holds younger son David as her husband, Bryan, sits behind their hockey-loving oldest child, Jonathan, long before he became captain of the Blackhawks. Courtesy Chicago Blackhawks

 
 
Posted5/29/2010 12:01 AM

How cool would it be to be Jonathan Toews' parents right now?

Really, seriously?

 

He's 22-years-old. He has been a winner on almost every hockey team he has ever played for, including in the World Junior Championships, the World Championships and most recently with Team Canada in the Vancouver Olympics.

He has the city of Chicago eating out of the palm of his hands. He's a true gentleman, mature beyond his years. And now the man who recently ran his franchise-record scoring streak to 13 playoff games is just 4 wins away from capturing his first Stanley Cup as the youngest captain in Chicago Blackhawks history.

"We're so proud," his mom Andree said with a smile you could almost feel all the way from Winnipeg, Manitoba. "He's so young and so mature and so responsible.

"He always thinks of others - that's what I'm most proud of. It's not about him, it's about the team, the teammates, and making sure everyone is doing well."

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Andree, husband Bryan and younger brother David are sure doing well as they keep an eye on Jonathan's progress as he and his teammates look to make a little history.

But how did this man who is nicknamed Captain Serious by some but Captain Fantastic by others come to be the man and the player he is today?

For that we go to Andree, in her own words, because as everyone knows - mom always knows best.

Starting young

He was really good when he started playing at 5. He was already skating on his own. A lot of people who were knowledgeable in hockey were telling us, just wait when everyone else starts skating, too. Basically, they were keeping us grounded because it's pretty exciting when you see that he's so good. But then you think, 'OK, the other ones don't know how to skate yet, so when they learn to skate they'll catch up.'

I've seen a lot of kids that have the same talent as him, but he just had such a strong mind. Like he would find out someone was better than him somewhere and he would work so hard to make sure he was the better one or to compete with that person. He has such a strong will to better himself and that's something he was born with, I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Rink in the backyard

It's what the boys loved the most. I kept thinking at some point they'll get tired of going outside and freezing, but they just loved it. And it's cold in Manitoba! You think it's cold in Chicago? You have no idea. And they spent like days outside in the cold. It's amazing! But when you love what you do it's fun.

Good lessons early

We were very dedicated people, hard working. Jonathan always says Bryan was the good cop and I was the bad cop. Bryan was like the good guy that played with them all the time. He's playing baseball with them in the front yard, or he's building the (hockey) rinks for them. He was always taking them golfing from when they were very young. The boys had lots of fun, good balance and fun family times all together.

Lessons learned

He works sooo hard. Like I told him the other day, I said, 'Jonathan, since you were a little boy, every team you've been on you've worked so hard and you're so dedicated that a lot of time the teammates see that too and it's a good leadership quality.'

You can be a leader that talks a lot but talks too much. For him it's the opposite. He works so hard that he doesn't need to say a lot. I think it's contagious for the teammates to see how much he wants it, how hard he works. It's nothing new. He's done that since he was a little boy.

Lessons learned II

He's such a good kid. He makes us look like good parents. He's so easy. When he was young a lot of parents would ask us for tips (laughs). He's always been such a good person. We always told him to always treat other people the way you wanted to be treated.

When he was young and always scoring a lot of goals we always told him don't get cocky. No one likes children that are bragging. Just be proud in your heart. Be a good person and good things will happen.

He's really living his life that way.

Always about team

One time he was 7 years old and we were driving him to a very important game and I noticed he was so quiet. He was sick; he had a high fever. I said 'We're turning around, you're not playing hockey.'

He started getting so mad he said, 'No, I'm going to play.' Most kids would be in their bed but he wanted to play, he was so dedicated. 'I have to be there for my team, I have to go play.'

And he did and they won. So amazing, his dedication and his strong will to win, to give everything he has. He's been like this since he was very young.

Language of hockey

We're very bilingual here. I speak French with my boys and speak English with my husband. The boys speak French to me so ... it's weird. Jonathan's French is so good, it's excellent. He even corrects me sometimes - and that's my first language! He went to school in French from kindergarten through grade 9, then he went to Shattuck-St. Mary's (in Minnesota), so he had to turn around and think in English. It must have been pretty difficult for him.

Leaving home at 15

The toughest thing for us as a family was when he left home to go to Shattuck-St. Mary's; that was the hardest part of our life. I just almost died of sadness. I don't know if we had to do that again if I would let him.

We had a hard time, and I didn't know at first that he did too - he wouldn't tell me.

I remember one time he phoned and I was crying, I missed him so much - and he was the one consoling me, telling me things weren't that bad. I was like, 'OK, who's the mother here?' He was so mature. He knew it would get better.

All those jerseys and medals

They're so beautiful, honestly, and we don't have the house for it. They deserve a nice place. Someone in Toronto framed them all and I had them sent to Chicago and one time we were there and we put them all on the walls of his condo in Chicago and he was so mad at us (she laughs).

When he came back he was like, 'What is this? Take that down.' It was like Jonathan Toews' shrine. He was pretty upset. I told him, 'No, this is nice. You've won world tournaments - this is huge.' He was pretty upset, though.

Captain Serious?

Yes (laughs), he is. He's a pretty serious kid. He knows how to have fun, but at his job he's serious. It's not for fun. He means business. He knows how to pick his time to have fun. I'm sure if they win the Stanley Cup, he'll have fun after that, but not before.

Opposites attract (Kane-Toews)

I think they're good for each other. I always call them the odd couple. Since they've been playing for the Hawks they've been rooming together on the road. They're a good balance for each other.

If they were both like Jonathan they'd be so serious. If they were both like Patrick they'd be wild. Patrick is good for Jonathan; he makes him laugh. They're fun together; they're buddies. They're always nitpicking each other like an old couple (laughs). They remind me of my husband and I.

Young captain, no worry

No, I wasn't worried. He was the captain on most of the teams when he was young and it didn't change the person he was. He's been in that role. It's just a different level, a different age group, that's how I look at it. To me, it's not just because it's the 'C'. It doesn't matter if he has it or not, he'd still be the person he is - very demanding of himself and expecting and wanting the team to do their best and have goals in mind.

He would always do his best and be a leader - officially or not. But it is an Original Six team and it's not like it's a team in some city where a lot of people are not that interested in hockey. That's in Chicago, so that's huge.

Fun times in Winnipeg

It's crazy. No, it's fun. People are so nice. They phone, write notes, send text messages ... there are so many people that want to go to the games. Most people think we can get as many tickets as we want and it's amazing the people who are calling for tickets. It's crazy.

I could probably sell out a good part of the arena just with people from Winnipeg. They just love him here. They're so proud of him. It would be crazy if they won and he brought the Cup here this summer. We'll see. Like Jonathan always says, one game at a time.

Fame go to his head?

No. Oh boy. I'd be the first one to bring him back down to earth. He'll always be the person he is. That's not going to change him.