18 April 2019
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 CORNERSTONE CAPTAINS

Jonathan Toews vs. Mike Richards

teammates 2010 richards and toews

In this edition of the Stanley Cup Final, the certainty of a hotly contested top prize is certain. Both teams are driven by their young and emerging captains, further examples of the new breed of determination and perseverance; the hybrid of skill and will.

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks has been a searchlight for the organization, ever since being taken third overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. It was a draft in which I was present and it was incredibly deep. The GMs had the luxury of taking all kinds of elite talent; the St. Louis Blues selecting defenseman Erik Johnson first overall. Other names gracing the ledger in the top ten alone were Penguin Jordan Staal (2nd), Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals (4th), the Leafs' sniper Phil Kessel (5th), and Islander Kyle Okposo (7th). Later in the first round, Hall-of-Fame General Manager Bobby Clarke made his famous gaffe, forgetting the name of his 22nd overall pick, one Claude Giroux (the kid has made everyone repeat his name now).

Toews

Toews has been excellent this postseason, setting the 2010 NHL playoff mark for points with 26 (16 points in the last eight contests) and is willing his team to win on a nightly basis. He never takes a shift off and is used in every situation from a premier penalty-killer to first-line scoring weapon to goal-line stalwart. He takes responsibility and props up the courage of others nightly. His three game-winners and a 58% faceoff percentage are also fantastic. It all gives his nickname more glue...Captain Serious. The Winnipeg, Manitoba-born Toews is the epitome of the total package.

Said Toews before closing out the San Jose Sharks this past weekend in his home rink, "It's kind of a teaser. Makes you want to win that much more. You feel like you got so much to lose when you're in a position like we are this year. Every game is so stressful, it's tough to go to sleep at night thinking about it."(A.P. 23 May 2010) Toews is pursuing the fact that he could win a Stanely Cup to accent his Olympic Gold Medal, World Junior double Gold, and World Championship Gold and Silver medals. The 22-year-old centre was also a NCAA Champion in his rookie season with the University of North Dakota.

Setting up in opposition of Toews in both the faceoff circle, score sheet, and media scrums is Philadelphia Flyers' captain Mike Richards. Although he is less efficient on the draw at 46% (51% during the regular season), he is undoubtedly his club's leader both with desire and point production. Richards is second in playoff scoring, behind only Toews, with 21 points.

Richards2Showing extreme poise and dedication, the 25-year-old Richards has taken his play-making to a new level during these playoffs. Known as a dedicated two-way and cornerstone forward, the Kenora, Ontario-born centre has not collapsed on those ideals, but has shown elite passing and a killer instinct behind the net. To go with his cycling and fore-checking game, Richards has an impressive arsenal of offensive and defensive weapons.

"He's an unbelievable hockey player," team-mate Ian Laperriere told NHL.com staff writer Mike Morreales HERE. "You got good hockey players and players with leadership in them and Ritchie's got it. It's not something you can work on in the summer. It's something you have, and Ritchie's got it."

As the Flyers bring All-Star sniper Jeff Carter back into the fold and meet the Blackhawks in what will prove to be a supreme test for the ultimate prize, Richards will again display his mettle. Nearly as decorated as Toews with an American Hockey League Calder Cup Championship, Olympic Gold, a Memorial Cup Championship with the OHL Kitchener Rangers in 2003, and World Junior Gold and Silver Medals - Richards will cut his teeth once more.

The fans will be the benefactor of two teams driven by their goal-seeking, team-orientated leaders, on the world's biggest stage for the world's greatest fans. The two hockey markets in Chicago and Philadelphia deserve no less.

 

25 May 2010 / Robin Keith Thompson

 

 

 

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