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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published June 11 2013

Former UND star Toews looking to join elite company

GRAND FORKS – Several years ago, an NHL front-office official admitted that Jonathan Toews will probably never win a scoring title.

“But he’s the guy who will win you the Stanley Cup,” the official said.

That analysis has been pretty much spot on for Toews, who starred at the University of North Dakota for two seasons before embarking on his already-decorated NHL career.

At age 25, Toews already has captained the Chicago Blackhawks to one Stanley Cup, and he’s just four wins away from doing it again. The quest for Cup No. 2 will begin at 7 tonight when the Blackhawks open the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins.

If the Blackhawks are victorious, Toews will be entering elite company.

Since 1913, only one hockey player has captained two Stanley Cup-winning teams before his 26th birthday. That was Wayne Gretzky.

The only two-time Stanley Cup champion captains of the last three decades are Gretzky, Scott Stevens, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and Mario Lemieux. All are already members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. In fact, every two-time Cup-winning captain since 1937 is in the Hall.

Toews has a long way to go before he gets there, but his legacy will grow if Chicago closes it out.

This playoff run has been different than 2010 for Toews. That year, he racked up 29 points in 22 games and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP.

The goals and points haven’t been easy – he has one goal and nine points so far – and the series haven’t all been easy, either. Chicago trailed Detroit 3-1 in the conference semifinals, but Toews and the Hawks wiggled their way out.

The Bruins will present another challenge for Toews and Co.

Boston is 9-1 in its last 10 playoff games and just finished sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. Pittsburgh, the highest-scoring team in the NHL during the regular season, scored two goals the entire series.

Boston has the services of the best defensive defenseman in the NHL – 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara – as well as forward Patrice Bergeron, who is the reigning Selke Trophy winner as the top defensive forward in the NHL.

Expect the Bruins to try to match up Chara and Bergeron against the Toews line, which featured Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp on the wings during practice Tuesday.

“Certainly, the core group has matured to a nice level over the last four years,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think their experience is going to be beneficial for the guys who haven’t been there. It’s nice having those guys to lean on at this time.”

Toews is one of them.

In the decade prior to Toews signing with the Hawks, they won a combined one playoff game. In Toews’ five years as captain, they’ve won 42.

The toughest challenge awaits.

But if the Hawks make it to the other side, a spot in history awaits for Toews.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald