By Richard Kagan
Across town, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, two of hockey’s wunderkids are playing well and have the Chicago Blackhawks poised to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Both Toews and Kane are only 28 and yet they’ve won three Stanley Cup championships and have carved their names in NHL history. Can Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant be the “Toews and Kane” of the Cubbies?
Patrick Kane won his MVP for the Chicago Blackhawks last year as the leading scorer of the league. His stick possession of the puck and his shot-making skills are legendary and he’s still under 30.
Bryant won the MVP award of the National League last season while hitting .292 BA, 39 HR’s, and 102 rbi’s in the regular season. That’s not to mention his key hits in the post-season, especially his home run against the Dodgers in game five of the NLCS.
Bryant, 25, had such a great year, it seemed like he was either on base or hitting a home run to put the Cubs ahead. It’s hard to expect him to do better. Cubs fans would like to see him reprise the kind of year he had last year.
Jonathan Toews is one of the great captains of the NHL. Known as “Captain Serious”, Toews seems older than his years on the ice. He doesn’t get ruffled easily. He provides on-ice leadership in making the crucial play, digging the puck out of a scrum, centering it to an open man, or tying up the game in the final seconds with a wrist shot. His name is on the Stanley Cup three times. The Hawks look like they could be playing later this coming spring.
Anthony Rizzo, 27, is the emotional leader of the Cubs. Last season he batted .292, hit 32 HR’s, and drove in 109 runs. One of the clutch hitters in the league, Rizzo got that key base hit when brows were furrowed on the bench. He and Bryant are the “answer” men for the Cubs. In the post-season, Rizzo was in a slump but he came out of it in a big way, helping the Cubs get to and win the World Series.
I see some similar traits in both Rizzo and Toews. They both lead by example. They don’t talk a lot, but let their play do the talking. It certainly speaks loud. Toews could be headed for hockey’s HOF. It is early to say that for Rizzo. He is off to a great start in his career.
Bryant and Rizzo have become household names in and around Chicago. It could be that way for a long time.