By Larry Wigge
Glen Seabrook and Jonathan Toews. One a defenseman, the other the team captain and do it all guy for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Strange as it seems, they are talking about scoring goals ...
After Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, Seabrook was basking the limelight after putting the Blackhawks even at two games apiece with a slap shot in overtime.
The story Seabrook told was a classic ... into the the deep, dark inner thoughts of two friends.
It reminds us all that someone always knows more about you ... than you.
Wayne Gretzky pushed Mark Messier and vice versa. Mario Lemieux listened to Ron Francis. Steve Yzerman remembers hearing some sobering advice from Brendan Shanahan. And so on ... and so on.
It's just that its interesting that a guy like Jonathan Toews, whose scored more than 150 goals in six years with Chicago would listen to Brent Seabrook, who has just over 50 goals in the same time.
Toews, ever the steady, monotoned, unfailingly positive voice and captain of the 2010 Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks, has come unglued emotionally, letting a scoring slump affect his entire psyche.
Teammate Brent Seabrook did his best Dr. Phil on Toews, while sitting in the hotel lobby after three games of the Stanley Cup finals with the Blackhawks trailing the Boston Bruins two games to one.
"What are you thinking about?" Seabrook, a defenseman, asked.
"Nothing," Toews said. "What are you thinking about?"
It was the wrong answer.
"What are you thinking about?" Seabrook inquired again.
Toews then realized what Seabrook was fishing for.
"SCORING GOALS!" Toews snapped back ...
Seconds later, Toews finally admitted, "Absolutely, every waking moment it's something you think about. Just got to be hungry. No excuses. I have to find a way. I'll take whatever I can get."
Said Seabrook, "To be completely honest, I was sick and tired of hearing everybody talk about everything that Johnny's doing right. He's a great player. He's one of the best in the league. I just told him that, 'He's got to stop thinking about that, too. He's got to stop thinking about everything that he's doing right and stop worrying about not scoring goals. He's got to score goals for us. He's a big part of our team. When he's going, we have a chance to win as well as Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell, all our forwards have to be going ... and I knew he was going to be playing great.
"It wasn't about the little things that he does. It wasn't about his leadership that he brings. I just thought that maybe he needed to start thinking about scoring goals."
Toews had gone 10 games without a goal when he tipped in a shot by Michal Rozsival in the second period. That gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead, and he also had a hand in the game-winner, screening Boston's Tuukka Rask as Seabrook unleashed a slap shot 9:51 into overtime.
That was more like it for Chicago.
Toews is the captain of the Blackhawks. Seabrook is a leader, too, as one of the team's more vocal players in the pregame moments and a veteran willing to speak up if necessary -- even when it's to the player wearing the 'C'.
It was a flashback from the conversation the two had after Game 4 against the Detroit Red Wings, when Toews took three penalties in the second period and was coming unhinged. Seabrook skated over to the penalty box and attempted to calm him down -- Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings was getting under Toews' skin.
"If the rest of the group sees him like that it's going to trickle down so we need him to be focused and be ready," Seabrook said at the time.
The sage advice continued in conversations like the one on the hotel lounge. As Seabrook said during an off-day interview at the Stanley Cup Final, he was sick and tired of hearing the talk about what Toews wasn't doing.
Here's Seabrook: "He's gotta score goals for us. When he's going, we have a chance to win. I just felt like he needed to start thinking about scoring goals."
Toews said Seabrook has leadership qualities the media and fans don't see.
"He always has. He's one of the louder guys before the game, in the locker room and between periods. I think it's part of his ritual to get himself going," said Toews. "He tries to get the boys going ... and tried to do the same for me."
Two friends, going back to when Seabrook was Toews' roommate in the center's rookie year. Two leaders for the Blackhawks, leading them when they needed it the most.
Said Jonathan Toews, "He wasn't trying to get on me, I don't think. He was definitely just trying to spark me a little bit. I don't know if it's something that goes with the relationship and the friendship we've had over the years, rooming with him my rookie year here in Chicago. It goes a ways back already. But he's always looked after me that way.
"It’s good. He cares about his teammates. He wants his teammates to have success. And more than anybody, he wants to win this thing."
A couple of days later, we're talking about this Dr. Phil consult ... like it meant something.
Well, it did.
Toews was still active in his assault on the Bruins net, assisting on both of Patrick Kane's Game 5 goals in a 3-1 victory over Boston.
The story goes one step further.
Johnathan Toews did it in the first two periods of play in Game 5. He sat on the bench. Didn't even step on the ice for the third period, after being slammed to the ice by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said that Toews was not concussed. Upper body injury.
What wasn't reported: Jonathan Toews was paying the price to score in the playoffs.
Just as Brent Seabrook was telling him.