CHICAGO – Details of the Chicago Blackhawks’ recent return flight from Toronto were revealed today and it seems highly possible that the entire team could have perished if not for the unmatched leadership of team captain Jonathan Toews.
“We were maybe halfway through the flight when the pilot came on and said: ‘We may hit a brief period of turbulence up ahead. Just stay in your seats and we’ll be through it shortly,'” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. “Well, obviously, when you hear something like that you get a little concerned and then you look to your leader.”
On the Blackhawks, that means 28-year old center Jonathan Toews. And what his teammates saw instantly reassured them that they’d be okay.
“After the pilot’s message, I look over to Toews and he’s asleep,” said forward Marian Hossa. “I think he probably didn’t even hear the announcement because he had headphones on, but either way … completely asleep. He wasn’t concerned about the turbulence at all. That’s the kind of steady hand and confidence you need when you face adversity. When I saw that, I knew we’d be okay.”
The pilot of the team’s plane that night, Gregory Mason, a man who flew dozens of successful missions during a career in the Air Force as a fighter pilot, said Toews’ presence got the aircraft down safely.
“Things can go bad in the air at anytime,” he said. “Wind shear. Lightning can strike. An engine can go out. You can lose cabin pressure. Hit a bird. It can be scary if you think about it. But that night, during those approximately 27 seconds of light turbulence, I had a sense everything would be okay because Jonathan Toews was on board. I’ve flown a lot of sports teams in my career, but there’s not another passenger like him. I may be the pilot, but he’s the captain.”