Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews hadn't spoken with media since before the NHL pause went into effect on March 12 amid concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The center appeared on NBC's Today Show Thursday morning to give a special birthday message to a fan. He also donated $100,000 through his foundation to a COVID-19 response fund on Thursday.
Toews appeared on Friday's episode of the Dropping the Gloves podcast hosted by former Hawk John Scott.
He was asked a variety of questions by Scott during the interview that lasted the entire episode, spanning almost 30 minutes.
At one point, Scott asked Toews to evaluate the Hawks' season with the mindset as if it had already concluded.
"It's tough because I think, number one: our older guys like Kaner and Duncs and Seabs and Crow and myself, I think you kind of get comfortable with your ways and how you do things over the years. So there's definitely been an adjustment for the veteran guys and the guys that are considered leaders as part of the core group in Chicago," Toews said on the podcast.
"I think you definitely have to grow and you have to adapt and part of that has just been kind of reassessing how we lead the team and what our daily approach has been like. Because it's this kind of separation between a lot of the young guys that come in that never played a playoff game before and have to learn a lot of the little things.
"On the other hand, sometimes, as they say, 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks', so it's hard to get out of your comfort zone and be a little bit more aware of the things that you're doing, be a little bit more aware of the example that you're setting and how you interact with some of these younger guys.
"So we've definitely had to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and think about all the little details of how we can do things better and how we can lead better. And I think that's a constant process to learn and get better in that sense.
"But there's been times too where as a team we show a ton of potential and a ton of promise where we can easily go on a three, four, five game win streak and all of a sudden everyone's 'riding the roller coaster', as we say, nice and high and we're looking like a team that can contend in the playoffs, and all of a sudden after that we'll lose another two, three or four straight and the feeling is completely the opposite. So it was kind of a tough season because it was a lot of highs and lows in that sense. Definitely a lot of learning in there through all of this."
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The three-time Stanley cup champion with Chicago was also asked about how he's tempered expectations heading into the last couple seasons where the Blackhawks don't have the same caliber group as when they were making long playoff runs.
"You know what John, it's hard because I think in your mind you're constantly pitting whatever you're going through against the experience of winning a Stanley Cup and being on a team where things are clicking and every single guy wants the exact same thing and you don't really have to do . . . the word 'babysitting' sounds wrong, but you're not really worried about every single little detail. You can just do your own thing and go out there and compete every single night.
"So you got that in the back of your mind and that's the expectation and then on the other hand, you have to be extremely patient because there's baby steps that this team needs to take towards getting back to that level. So at least for myself, I kind of catch myself between, not necessarily being too complacent, but also kind of tempering my expectations, but on the other side, being extremely competitive, saying, 'Why shouldn't we have those really high expectations of ourselves?'
"And that's where the emotion really comes from sometimes when things don't go my way or our way. It's kind of this balancing act towards having patience knowing that we're working our way back towards getting to that level."
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