Jonathan Toews opens up about future with Blackhawks, health issues, Patrick Kane trade
Toews acknowledged he may be playing his final games in Chicago as he continues to battle long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome.
This season has marked the end of an era for the Chicago Blackhawks, and perhaps the end of the line for captain Jonathan Toews.
Toews opened up about his future for the first time in months on Tuesday, less than two weeks after it was reported the 34-year-old was contemplating retirement due to long COVID symptoms and chronic immune response syndrome.
"Regardless of what happens in the future this summer, it’s definitely on my mind that this could be my last few weeks here in Chicago as a Blackhawk,” Toews told reporters.
“So that’s definitely very important for me to just go out there, enjoy the game, soak it in and just really appreciate everything I’ve been able to be a part of here in Chicago — and show my appreciation to the fans, as well.”
The longest-standing member of the Blackhawks, Toews hasn't played since late January and has been limited to 46 games during the 2022-23 campaign, scoring 14 goals and adding 14 assists. He missed the entire 2020-21 season due to chronic immune response syndrome.
“I don’t know if it was when we were on the road a lot or leading up to the break and it just got to the point where I couldn’t move on the ice and didn’t even want to put on my skates or roll out of bed to come to the rink, so it was pretty rough there for a bit,” Toews said. “And so I think it probably took me a couple of weeks of just wrestling with, in my own mind, trying to figure out what the right decision was, if I should keep trying to push through it, which really didn’t feel like an option anymore. … Or kind of pulling the plug in and trying to focus my energy on getting better.
“You can’t really explain because people won’t understand,” Toews said. “It’s not like a knee injury or shoulder injury where you lay under an MRI and your proof is right there. It has been one of those complicated things. Even for me, it’s been really challenging at times to figure out what’s going on."
Toews has played his entire career in Chicago since being selected third overall in 2006, winning three Stanley Cups and earning six All-Star selections along with a Conn Smythe and Selke Trophy.
The Winnipeg native, who is in the final year of an eight-year, $84-million contract he signed in July 2014, is still hoping to return before Chicago wraps up its season on April 13, but he remains uncertain about his playing future beyond that.
“It’s not easy to do obviously to just get back in game conditioning on a whim and we only have barely more than a handful of games left in the season, so it’s been tough though to watch the changes that our team has gone through,” Toews told reporters.
“Today was my first day back with the team and even it’s morning skate, it’s an adjustment, so maybe a couple more days like that will be good and we’ll see. Regardless, I wouldn’t say to expect much but I’m just going to try and go out there and play with energy and have some fun, so we’ll see when that might be.”
Toews reflects on Patrick Kane trade
With the hopes of landing the first overall pick in this summer’s draft where the Blackhawks would select generational talent Connor Bedard, it didn't come as a surprise to see Patrick Kane dealt to the New York Rangers ahead of the trade deadline. But it was still a jarring reality for Kane's long-time running mate.
"I was definitely shocked," Toews said. "The possibility was there for a while, but you're like 'yeah, it's not actually going to happen'— you just can't see a guy like him in another jersey. Then all of a sudden you see him in a New York Rangers jersey... it kinda looks good on him to be honest with you, I hate to say that, but just happy to see him enjoy himself playing with some really good players.
"Kane is such a competitor it's going to feel good for him to go out there and play what should be some meaningful games in the playoffs and play on the big stage, and obviously that team they have Patrick Kane so they're feeling pretty good about themselves right now."