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As new alternate captain, Toews respects veterans
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/6/2007 12:28 AM

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If there's such a thing as being a natural-born leader, Jonathan Toews fits the bill.

Toews has been a leader throughout his hockey career, and it's continuing in his first year with the Blackhawks.

Toews wore the alternate captain's "A" on the front of his jersey for the first time Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks after being selected for the honor two days earlier by coach Denis Savard.

"I think it is with guys that have those qualities that really deserve to be captains, when they do get a letter on their chest they don't change a thing," Toews said. "They keep doing what they do every single day, and that's why they are leaders because guys look up to them and they listen to them in the dressing room and on the ice.

"That's the attitude I'm going to have going into this."

Toews is a quiet kid and respectful of the veterans around him.

"At this point, I'm still pretty young and I don't think it's my time to be more vocal than I have," Toews said. "I'm just going to go out there and play and let things happen and hopefully I can lead that way."

Earlier in the week Savard called Toews the kind of player a coach dreams about.

"You wish you had 20 like him," Savard said.

Practice makes perfect: With only two road games the rest of the month, Denis Savard see this as an opportunity for some good practice time before the road schedule heats up in January and February.

"For us, it's not only getting results this month," Savard said. "There's a lot that we need to accomplish as a group as far as structure.

"Because after that we won't have much time to work on some of these things, so we've really got to get consistent here for the next nine or 10 games so when we get to January we're a well-oiled machine."

Still hurting: Jason Williams, who has missed seven of the last eight games with a groin strain, is no closer to returning to the lineup.

"It's still there on him," Denis Savard said. "I wish I could tell you next week, but we have to make sure that pain is all out."

Tip-ins: White Sox slugger Jim Thome dropped the ceremonial puck and said he wasn't disappointed by the team's lack of action. "There's still plenty of off-season left," Thome said. … David Koci and Magnus Johansson were the Hawks' healthy scratches. … Denis Savard said goalie Nikolai Khabibulin would start Friday against Anaheim, Sunday vs. Calgary and Wednesday against Los Angeles.