After pulling himself from the Blackhawks active lineup before the All-Star break to give his body time to recover as he continues to deal with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome and his long-COVID symptoms, Jonathan Toews will be in the lineup for Saturday night’s contest at the United Center against the New Jersey Devils.
Toews spoke to the media following Friday’s practice and said that his return to the ice was still up in the air, and he had to have discussions still with head coach Luke Richardson about when they collectively felt he was ready to return to game action. In fact, Toews was asked about his contemplations of retirement and if or when he might announce that kind of decision.
“To be fully honest, I’m not near making that decision yet,” Toews said Friday afternoon. “I don’t feel like, with what I’ve been through this year and this past season, that I have enough clarity on what that decision is going to be. Either that decision will be clear for me this summer, or I’ll be really feeling good and ready to train and prepare and get myself to a place where I can play high-level hockey again.”
Minutes later, Richardson broke the news that Toews would be returning.
So that conversation clearly went well.
Toews had been working out away from the team in his time off the ice, but was still around the team in the practice facilities and locker room before and after games. His presence never left the team while he wasn’t playing. After getting back on the ice last week, taking a few morning skates and a handful of full practices, the longest-tenured Captain in team history will be making his return before the end of the 2022-23 season on Saturday night. He missed 27 games.
Earlier this week, Toews spoke about the season coming to an end and how much he’s realizing that this might be not only his last weeks in Chicago, but maybe in the NHL.
We have no idea what that will look like for Toews on the ice, who admitted on Friday that is probably wasn’t going to be perfect, but perfect is not what should be expected from Toews. Maybe he is still expecting it from himself, but that fact that Blackhawks fans were coming to grips with the idea that he had potentially played his last game in Chicago before anyone knew it would be, having him back on the ice Saturday night is already a victory.
Toews has played in 46 games this season with 14 goals and 28 points, ranking third in active player goals and fifth in active player points.