Jonathan Toews received a hero's welcome in his hometown of Winnipeg on Sunday, along with other accolades for the quiet 22-year-old who has already won a lifetime's worth of awards.
Toews was cheered by hundreds of fans who chanted his name outside city hall as he raised the Stanley Cup and kissed it. Many supporters wore Chicago Blackhawks jerseys with Toews' name and number.
"Even though he's famous, he's still very humble and remembers his roots and doesn't take it all for granted,'' gushed Toni Toews — no relation — who showed up two hours early with her 16-year-old daughter Georgee, carrying a banner inscribed with the words "You did it.''
Toews was given the key to the city by Mayor Sam Katz and had a small northern Manitoba lake named after him by Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.
Overwhelmed by honours
Then Toews and the Stanley Cup took part in a parade through his home neighbourhood of south St. Vital. It wound its way to the Dakota Community Centre on Dakota Street, the city rink where Toews played hockey as a child and where his NHL dreams were born.
Toews appeared stunned when Katz unveiled a banner proclaiming the rink's new name as the Jonathan Toews Community Centre.
'I'm not always good with words to begin with but to try and show your appreciation about the way you feel about something like that is pretty difficult.'—Jonathan Toews
"I was not expecting that," he said in an interview afterwards.
"I had no idea that was going to happen and I didn't think that they would ever do something like that so quickly. It's just tough to show your appreciation.
"I'm not always good with words to begin with but to try and show your appreciation about the way you feel about something like that is pretty difficult.
He said the outpouring of support from the politicians and people in his hometown has been overwhelming.
"You can't come home and experience that type of thing during the season, you're so busy,'' Toews said. "To see it and experience it is something different altogether.
"I didn't expect this. I thought it would be an hour with the mayor just to hang out.''
Youngest captain in NHL
Toews has had a whirlwind 2010. He was a big factor in the gold medal victory of the Canadian men's team at the Vancouver Olympics. He captained the Blackhawks to their first championship in 49 years in June and won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
Add to that a gold medal at the 2007 world junior championship, making Toews one of only seven Canadians to have won a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold and the world junior title.
A lot has happened early for the young man who some fans say has a polite, quiet demeanor similar to Wayne Gretzky or Jean Beliveau. He's the youngest team captain in the NHL.
For now, Toews will have a chance to relax with family and friends before the coming season. He plans on going to the remote lake near Flin Flon, Man., that now bears his name.
"I don't want to go there alone. I guess there's no roads there. We were joking about that earlier — we're going to have to build one,'' he chuckled.