Jonathan Toews discusses future with the Blackhawks, health issues and Patrick Kane trade

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews addressed the media Tuesday for the first time in two months. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This season marks the end of an era for the Chicago Blackhawks and perhaps the end of the road for captain Jonathan Toews.

Toews spoke about his future for the first time in months on Tuesday, less than two weeks after it was revealed the 34-year-old was considering retirement due to prolonged COVID symptoms and chronic immune reaction syndrome.

“Regardless of what happens in the future this summer, I’m definitely thinking that this could be my last few weeks here in Chicago as a Blackhawk,” Toews told reporters.

“It’s definitely very important for me to just go out there, enjoy the game, soak it in and just appreciate everything that I’ve been able to be a part of here in Chicago — and also show my appreciation to the fans.”

Toews, the Blackhawks’ oldest member, has not played since late January and was limited to 46 games during the 2022-23 season, scoring 14 goals and adding 14 assists. He missed the entire 2020/21 season due to chronic immune reaction syndrome.

“I don’t know if it was because we were traveling a lot or just before the break when I couldn’t move on the ice and didn’t even want to put my skates on or roll out of bed to get to the rink. so it was pretty rough in there for a while,” Toews said. “And so I think it probably took me a couple of weeks to wrestle in my own head with figuring out what the right decision was, whether I should keep trying to enforce it, which really didn’t feel like an option anymore . … Or somehow pull the plug and try to focus my energy on getting better.

“You can’t really explain it because people don’t understand it,” Toews said. “It’s not like a knee or shoulder injury where you’re under an MRI and your evidence is right there. It was one of those complicated things. Even for me, it was a real challenge 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 and a Conn Smythe and Selke trophy.

The Winnipeg native, who is in the final year of an eight-year, $84 million deal he signed in July 2014, is still hoping to return before Chicago ends its season on May 13.

“Obviously it’s not easy to get back into playing condition on a whim and we only have little more than a handful of games left in the season so it’s been difficult to observe the changes our team has gone through. ” Toews told reporters.

“Today was my first day back with the team and even skating in the morning is an adjustment so maybe a few more days like this will be good and we’ll see. Regardless, I wouldn’t say to expect much, but I’ll just try to get out there and play with energy and have fun, so we’ll see when that might be.

With hopes of picking up the first overall pick of this summer, which would see the Blackhawks pick generational talent Connor Bedard, it came as no surprise that Patrick Kane was traded to the New York Rangers before the trade deadline. But it was still a harrowing reality for Kane’s longtime comrade-in-arms.

“I was definitely shocked,” Toews said. “The possibility was there for a while, but you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s not really going to happen’ – you just can’t see a guy like him in another shirt. Then all of a sudden you see him in a new York Rangers shirt… it suits him kinda well to be honest I hate to say it but I’m just happy to see he’s having fun with it to play with some really good players.

“Kane is such a competitor that it’s going to feel good for him to go out there and play some meaningful games in the playoffs and play on the big stage and obviously this team has Patrick Kane so they’re feeling pretty good now About yourself.”

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