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Rick Rischall The Hockey Writers

Published on Saturday, September 5, 2015





Captain Toews Accused of Bungling Response – Are You Serious!?

I have tried my darndest to stay out of the whole Patrick Kane fray for a variety of reasons.  Most notably because I have virtually no direct knowledge of anything that has happened.  My sources have thus advised me to keep quiet (I have some very smart sources).  Unfortunately, as the investigation continues, it seems some writers will latch on to just about anything related and jump to conclusions in an effort to find a new angle.  To whit, I received this via Twitter with a linked article from @SI_NHL (Allan Muir):

Toews Interview with TSN 1290

For those of you who missed it, Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews  was invited to speak on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 radio on Thursday September 3, 2015.   Here is the interview transcript via Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune (Italics and bold added by me): Host: “Jonathan, I do want to ask you one question about being the captain of the Blackhawks. Obviously, most people are aware of a situation that has been developing regarding one of your star teammates. Obviously, I won’t ask you to comment on anything like that, but when something like that happens during the offseason does your focus as far as dealing with your teammates as well as the media change going into training camp as the captain of the team?”

Toews responded: “I think you just have to have confidence that things like that will resolve themselves over time. For the time being, you stay together as a team. You support your teammate … uh, teammate, teammates that are maybe going through a rough patch. You know, we saw it last year with some rumors that spread around through social media about several guys in the locker room. It’s not the first time we’ve seen situations like that and eventually you deal with it internally and you stay together as a team and your confidence as individuals and as a group that everyone kind of stays together. At the end of the day we always say to each other that what is said and what is done within the locker room is the only thing that matters. We don’t let anything going on on the outside affect the way we do our jobs and the way we come to work together as a team. Again, I get a lot of credit because I have the ‘C’ on my sweater, but I think we have a great group of guys who understand what it takes to be a leader, what it takes to be a part of a good team. Clearly, it’s more than just what happens on the ice. There’s always a lot of things being said and things going on off the ice, but no matter what, we do a good job of sticking together.”

Toews Accused of Bungling the Question

The response seems innocent enough in full context, but apparently not so for Allan Muir, who states in his S.I. piece “So how is it possible that Toews screwed up so badly?”.  He then continues on: “Whoops. Rough patch? A scorer who’s gone 10 games without lighting the lamp, that’s a rough patch. What Kane’s involved in is something else entirely. It’s not so much that it’s an insensitive answer. What’s shocking is how unprepared he was to handle the question.”.  Later Muir writes: “But he has to be better than what he said about Kane. And that’s not just on him. That’s on the Hawks as well.”

My Rebuttal

Uhm what?  With all due respect to Mr. Muir, read Toews’ comments again, in full context.  He starts with “For the time being…”.  So Toews is acknowledging that for now this is the action he takes towards a teammate.  But he hedges properly should things change once more is known.  How is that bungling the answer or being “shockingly unprepared”?

Secondly, the question presented was about focus in dealing with the media and teammates when something “like this happens”. Toews responded as I imagine most captains/leaders would say in public: we support our teammate.  Yes, Toews chose to be general and speak of a “rough patch”.  If he calls it an arrest, he is wrong and the media jumps.  Furthermore, is it possible that perhaps Toews is just speaking about trying to support a teammate emotionally and not necessarily supporting (or condoning) what may (or may not) have happened?

Muir then suggests that Toews and the Blackhawks as a whole should take advice from Chicago News anchor Julie DiCaro and say something like ‘We don’t know what happened so we can’t comment.” I concur that is probably the best reply, though I am sure some in the media wouldn’t be happy with that response either from the captain or team executives.  Seems like a no-win situation to me.

What is perhaps most amazing is that after Muir spends most of his article accusing Toews of bungling the interview so badly, Muir ends his commentary with this (underline added for emphasis): “Toews and his teammates are dealing with a situation for which no hockey player is prepared. They could certainly use some someone like DiCaro to help them understand what’s at stake when they speak. And in the meantime we, media and fans alike, should be willing to cut them some slack as they try to navigate their way through it.”

I could not agree with you more and I am not alone:

So Mr. Muir and Sports Illustrated, exactly what were you saying about bungling and screwing up comments again? Here’s a suggestion back to you: try practicing what you preach.  In the meantime, I’ll cut you some slack.


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