Everything Else

Toews The Dead

If I were you, every time I saw the word “narrative” in any post about anything, I’d run screaming for the hills. I know I’m sick of seeing them, and sick of writing them. Maybe I just need a better synonym for the word. It’s hard to find one though. Account? Story? Chronicle? We’ll work on it.

Jonathan Toews’s recent scoring binge is just the latest turn in what has become the complete slapstick-gone-wrong way we watch and cover sports these days. We can thank Twitter for basically ruining everything, and this is just another example. Because once again, we mistake those shouting the loudest for being in the majority, when these are usually two very separate things. But say it enough, and it at least feels like reality if not outright becoming so.

There are certain truths to Toews. He is a great player. He is having possibly his worst season in the NHL (and even with this binge is still in a lot of ways, but we’ll get to that). These two things are not mutually exclusive, but they sure get treated like they are.

No one here, at least not while I’ve been conscious (and I’m not nearly as blackout drunk as often as perhaps I make out), ever said Toews was a bad player. No one said he was overrated. No other Hawks blog ever said it, at least not one where the writers have opposable thumbs and have actually caused someone else to climax once in their lives.

The numbers are still there. Toews’s points production was down, his metrics are still down. And it was certainly reasonable to question whether it was the injury that was slowing him down, because back injuries are probably the last thing you want to have aside from serious concussion problems. It was reasonable to wonder about the all the miles piled up in the last five years. It was reasonable to wonder about age, as we know most forwards actually peak somewhere between 25-27 and Toews was now past that.

Of course, with nuance being something that is now simply there to be micturated upon in whatever circle of hell you inhabit, there are plenty who would run from places where these questions were being asked to the official press of the Hawks and keeping asking them why Toews sucks, which is not something anyone with a normal level of oxygen between their ears was saying.

So then you get this binge, where Toews has certainly upticked in his metrics and is shooting over 20% for the month and his numbers start to level out and the same pack of mouth-breathing hyenas come running back to ask why we ever thought Toews sucked, which we never said. And of course, the MSM–completely and justifiably sick and tired of being questioned by those who are flummoxed by tin foil, lash out at just about everyone else with condescending and gleeful, “I guess Toews doesn’t suck now” posts and articles, further schism-ing (if I can make that a word) the divide we already had.

And the thing is, all of it can be true. Toews is on a hot streak, his numbers will look better than they were, and yet he could still be having an off-year. 10 games do not a good season make, and you’d think everyone would know that by now. The past two seasons have seen him have his lowest CF% since his rookie year, and he’s going to have to basically turn into Thanos to undo that by the time this season is over. His shots-percentage, xGF%, scoring chance-share are still straight-up bad, and by far the worst marks of his career. They’re all trending up, which is a good sign, but are not going to finish anywhere near where we’re accustomed to seeing them. And all continue a slide we began to see last year.

And it could just be that Toews was hitting heights in possession numbers and other metrics that are near impossible to maintain for that long. Only the truly elite can do it, and even they had their blips like Crosby and… well, Crosby. Bergeron maintains it because he’s an alien.

Even with this binge, Toews is almost certainly headed for a career-low in goals and will struggle to come close to 60 points for only the third time, the first being his rookie year when he missed 18 games and last year being the second. He was a point-per-game in ’11-’12 when he missed half the year and also a PPG in the lockout year, so you’re tempted to not count those.

Is it fun to see him dominate again? You bet your ass it is. Is it entertaining to watch Schmaltz develop right alongside? Of course. Do the Hawks look a completely different team when he’s playing like this? Absolutely. Am I starting to sound like that Seinfeld episode with Cary Elwes and Debra Messing where he keeps answering his own questions? Yes, I am. And let’s be honest, Debra Messing shouldn’t be crossing the street to spit on Seinfeld or Elwes. BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED.

Let’s not confuse what it means about what the future holds or what anyone said in the past.