After two straight early exits for the Chicago Blackhawks, captain Jonathan Toews took a different approach to training in the offseason.
Instead of resting up and just allowing injuries to heal, the captain instead focused on getting faster and more athletic, and will look to add some offensive elements to his game this season.
“I mentioned in my exit interviews that I wanted to just get back to playing a more skill game and regaining my athleticism and ability to move laterally and skate with the puck,” he said. “A lot of that is just getting my ability back to skate properly. I just worked to get my body feeling right again.”
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Toews and the Blackhawks had plenty to chew on this offseason after they were swept out of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators.
The series loss marked the second straight year that the Blackhawks were bounced in the first round of the postseason, and Toews knows that he needs to make sure to maximize his chances of winning another Stanley Cup sooner rather than later.
“I just tried to work smarter,” he said. “There’s been a lot of years that are adding up in a lot of ways. You have some little nagging things that pile up that you want to get rid of.”
Toews is getting ready to start his 11th NHL season, and all but one of those seasons has been played with Joel Quenneville on the bench. The coach put Toews with Brandon Saad, who was acquired in a trade with Columbus, and Richard Panik in practice, and he’s hoping Toews’ offseason work will pay dividends with his new linemates.
"He showed up in great shape, and I liked his approach coming into camp,” he said. “Johnny is a competitive guy and is willing to do whatever he can to enhance his game. Johnny wants to be the best he can be."