Patrick Sharp is just one of the players well-qualified to help fill Jonathan… (US Presswire )
To many fans' surprise and delight, the Blackhawks are riding a three-game winning streak while playing without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The team has picked up their on-ice workload as a unit, but who picks up leadership duties when the captain is out?
What have you done to expand your leadership role with Jonathan Toews out?
Nothing. I continue doing the same things I've done every day that I've been here. Whether Jonny is in the lineup or not, I feel like we [have] a lot of leaders in this locker room.
Not necessarily just Dunc [Duncan Keith] and I, and Seabs [Brent Seabrook], that wear the letters, but there's all kinds of guys. Look at a guy like Michal Handzus, Marian Hossa. They played thousands of games, they've been in every situation, so to ask me what I've done, if I've changed anything, the answer is no. Collectively our team has a group of good leaders.
What has the team done to fill the void Kane and Toews have left on the ice?
We're forced to simplify our game a little bit. Try not to make that extra play if you don't have to. Focus on checking hard and playing good defense and it's resulted in a couple big wins for us.
Is anyone emerging as a leader to fill Toews' shoes?
I think we're doing it as a unit. Everyone in this room wants to step up and help out the team. With him out it's tough; you can't replace a guy like that. From the older guys to the young guys, everyone is trying to do what they can to help get the win.
How do you make up for Toews' on-ice contributions?
Keeping it simple, working hard. I feel he's the hardest-working guy in the NHL. I think it's going to take the whole team to work as hard as they can to try to make up what we lost for him.
Who has stepped up to fill Toews' shoes leadership-wise?
It's been a group effort. We still have Sharpy, Duncan Keith, Seabrook, Hossa leading the way. But there's definitely a void and I think it's been that group, including Sheldon Brookbank. A lot of the veteran guys on this team that have stepped up and helped us keep things simple, doing the right things in between periods, led by example out there on the ice.
A lot of guys are vocal. We have a lot of guys that have been around. It's a bit different not having Kaner and Toews in the lineup, but there are those guys ... Seabrook is always hooting and hollering before games, he's still here to keep that going.
Have the leaders on the team let you know what you have to do to stay here and help you fit in?
The older guys on the team that you look up to let you know what you got to do. I think that's just buying into a role and playing the right way. That's what I've been trying to do this last time up, playing the right way and trying to develop my other side of the game and let things come on the other side of the rink.
Has it been difficult for the team to fill Toews' void?
Obviously it's kind of a group effort. Those two guys [Kane and Toews] are obviously a huge loss, but everybody is just trying to chip in anywhere they can and keep things moving forward.
Have the leaders on the team made you feel welcome and comfortable coming to Chicago?
Everybody's been nice to me. I met those guys [Toews and the alternate captains] last year in training camp, so I know all the guys. That was good when I came here. All the guys have been good to me.
Scott King is a RedEye special contributor.
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