Jonathan Toews, believe it or not, is a 28-year-old grizzled veteran, on the verge of completing his ninth season wearing the "C" on his No. 19 sweater.
That's almost is hard to imagine -- having witnessed the evolution of one of the game's most complete players and iconic leaders -- Toews remains the very definition of captain.
As an amateur, Toews competed internationally for Team Canada, winning gold medals at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, 2006 and 2007 World Junior Championships and the 2007 World Championships. It was the beginning of a truly remarkable career.
For Chicago fans, however, it all started back in 2006, when the Blackhawks selected Toews with the third overall pick in the NHL Draft. This was not your typical 19-year-old rookie, seeing as most athletes mature as they gain experience. Toews, who earned the nickname Captain Serious, has done the opposite: he has grown into his maturity. After Toews’ rookie season, Blackhawks management met with him during the team’s annual off-season fan convention.
At a downtown hotel, Toews was told he would be the team’s captain at the ripe age of 20, making him the third youngest in league history at the time, behind only Vincent Lecavalier and Sidney Crosby.
“To be honest, we had talked about it his rookie year, but we decided to wait,” Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said. “He responded in typical Jonathan Toews fashion. He said, ‘I’m honored, and I’ll make us proud.’ ”
It was arguably the easiest, yet best decisions, the franchise has ever made.
The Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference finals that season, their first trip to the playoffs in six years. The next season, Chicago won the Stanley Cup, its first since 1961, led by Toews (Conn Smythe) and fellow young studs Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
Toews' burning competitive streak and intensity, the very qualities that made him a leader, ultimately led to the nickname.
Despite the seemingly perfect fit, Toews has always remained adamant that the Captain Serious reference was an incomplete portrayal of who he really is off the ice.
“I don’t like it at all,” he said. “Guys have known for a few years that’s how they can push my buttons.”
If you have followed the Blackhawks closely during the duration of Jonathan's career, it's no secret nobody enjoys a good prank more than him. Just ask Andrew Shaw. The two waged a prank war during the 2015 season, resulting in hefty room service bills and one malfunctioning toilet.
While 'Captain Serious' will never die for fans, it was really at the beginning of his career when Toews got stuck with the nickname.
"Maybe when he was younger—younger guys get picked on for certain things," Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. "Jonny's always been a funny guy and likes to joke around when it's time. I don't think he's ever been 'Captain Serious' since I got here. There's times to be serious."
Being made captain at such a young aged helped spark Chicago's hockey renaissance, leading the team to three Stanley Cups. While No. 19 has made it look rather easy, to him, his captaincy has been a learning process he's been quite, well, serious about.
"Looking back, I probably didn't realize how big a responsibility it was, and how much I even had to learn in that situation," he said. "But I think sometimes when you're young, you're naive, you're confident."
There's only one, Captain Serious.