Yzerman's Praise of Toews Impresses Wirtz

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Byline: Tim Sassone

tsassone@@dailyherald.com

Introducing Jonathan Toews was such a big deal to the Blackhawks that owner Bill Wirtz dropped by Tuesday's news conference at the United Center.

Wirtz even publicly signed Toews' three-year contract that, including bonuses, could be worth as much as $2.8 million.

"Did you tell them what Yzerman said?" Wirtz asked general manager Dale Tallon as he spoke with reporters about Toews.

Steve Yzerman, the former Detroit Red Wings great, was the GM for Team Canada at last month's World Championships, and he invited Toews to try out for the team as the only non-professional.

Toews (pronounced Taves) not only made the team but played a starring role as Canada won the gold medal.

"Yzerman said he was as good as any player he had," Tallon said.

"He said he could play for Detroit," Wirtz said.

Tallon then politely corrected his boss.

"Well, he's going to play for the Blackhawks," Tallon said.

And Toews figures to play a lot in every situation even as a 19- year-old rookie center.

Hawks coach Denis Savard watched Toews play on television at the World Championships and saw someone who could turn out to be special.

"We can't ask him to be the go-to guy, but he's going to be a big part of it," Savard said. "It's just the will he has. He has lots of will, and that will reflect on a lot of the players in our room. He's just a winner, that's what he is. He makes the players on the ice with him better."

Toews certainly figures to be the Hawks' No. 1 center - if not this season, then somewhere not too far down the road.

"Where he fits, we'll evaluate that when training camp comes around," Savard said.

Toews brings to the Hawks exactly what they need. Not only is he a potential money playmaker and scorer, he is a tenacious defender.

"I watched him play two games in a row last season," Tallon said. "In one game he had 4 points and in the other he didn't have any, but he was as good the night without the points. …