It hasn’t been declared Jonathan Toews day just yet, but with all the honours the Winnipeg hockey star received Sunday, it sure felt like it.
Toews began the morning bright and early by receiving a warm welcome at the Manitoba Legislature, where dozens of fans greeted his chartered bus shortly before 10 a.m. Once inside, Toews received the much talked about Manitoba lake in his name — Lake Toews.
The lake is situated about 95 kilometres north of Flin Flon, and spans approximately 2.4 km long and 1.6 km wide.
Premier Greg Selinger presented Toews with a certificate documenting the lake bearing the 22-year-old’s name.
A few blocks away, crowds were gathering at City Hall, where another celebration took place. Toews was honoured once again, but this time by Mayor Sam Katz. With the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy near the podium, Toews was presented with the key to the city. Flanked by his family and friends, Toews thanked fans for coming out and was more than gracious by signing autographs for anyone that wanted one — time permitting, of course.
On the other side of the city, people were already lining the streets in south St. Vital near Ècole Christine-Lespérance, where a parade departed around 1 p.m. for Dakota Community Centre. Enthusiastic fans held up signs, homemade Stanley Cup replicas and wore their best #19 jerseys along the route to cheer on Toews.
Once at Dakota C.C., Toews was presented with something even he wasn’t expecting. Mayor Sam Katz unveiled a sign to the newly-renamed Jonathan Toews Community Centre — the same facility the Chicago Blackhawks captain spent many years playing himself. The naming was a surprise to both Toews, and his parents, who noted the accomplishments of their son at such a young age.
The celebration at the community centre drew the biggest crowd of the day, as thousands lined up after the short ceremony to get some face time with the NHL superstar and the Stanley Cup. “I almost feel guilty,” Toews said of the small city who gathered to see him. “Everything they do for me — they make it incredibly special and it’s just tough to repay them for that.”