Watching the Blackhawks without Toews is like watching The Office without Michael Scott. You can roll out all the celebrity cameos you want, but in the end Michael makes the engine churn. Same with the Hawks. Toews will play tonight against the Rangers, returning from a back injury that has kept him out since November 23rd.
I love Marcus Kruger as much as the next Hawks fan, but seeing him on the “top” line sort of hurt my eyeballs. Q was pretty much rolling out three checking lines and one scoring lining (Kane/Anisimov/Panarin). Toews opens up the offensive possibilities and obviously shuts down whichever player on the opposing team Q wants him to shut down. My only request is that he stops getting into fights. You now have a history of head and back injuries, Jonny, so we don’t need you getting a concussion for the sake of sticking up for your teammates.
Overlooked here is the high probability that Bettman has been hounding Toews and the Hawks training staff about when he was going to return. No way Bettman would’ve let #19 miss the Winter Classic. I can only assume the frustration that Toews was feeling throughout this injury process was dealing with that weasel-voiced elf every day.