The last time the NHL experienced a lockout, Jonathan Toews was in high school playing Midget hockey. Now the Blackhawks captain is in the center of the action, ready to figure out the best possible solution for owners, players and fans during the upcoming CBA negotiations.
Over the next three days, players will discuss their concerns and draft a proposal to take to the league in order to begin the negotiations concerning salary cap and financial changes.
"The league is very young, from top to bottom we need to show that we're together and willing to learn," Toews said when discussing the importance of teamwork throughout the offseason.
Former teammate Brian Campbell spoke up as well and knows the owners, as well as the players, can't afford to undergo another lockout like they did during the 2004-05 season.
"We have a good product going right now, fans are excited, different teams are going to the playoffs, it's something to be excited about," Campbell said. "You don't want to ruin that."
The Chicago-based NHLPA meetings quickly led to more local conversations, including recent controversies concerning Patrick Kane. After photos began circulating from a trip to Madison, Wis. in May, Kane's been scrutinized for some of his off-ice actions.
"The guys on our team are behind him, he's been through some tough things," Toews said. "I think he's still learning and it's just unfortunate that now people are looking for it, and it tends to be easier for them to find it.
"We're supporting him and I'm sure he's being very hard on himself right now... With time it'll go away again and he'll be able to focus on hockey again.
"People want to get to know him off the ice and they want to see what he's like, and next thing you know you're under the microscope. There are a lot of 23, 24-year old guys out there and they don't have to worry about that sort of thing. He does, I know it's tough on him."
Toews concluded his time with the media reassuring everyone he's fully healthy and isn't experiencing any side effects from the concussion he sustained last season. He's ready to accomplish all he can during the offseason concerning the new CBA and can't wait to get back on the ice at the start of next season.