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This was not the ending to this story that any of us hoped for. For nearly a year, Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews’ future with the organization was under the microscope. Every word of his was dissected as a “he wants to stay” or “he wants out” comment when most of them weren’t really definitive either way. All while his future on the ice was uncertain and was being taken one day at a time, his future off the ice was also fighting a one-day-at-a-time battle.
On Sunday afternoon, we got our answer to Toews’ future with the organization, at least through the end of the 2022-23 season.
He won’t be traded.
But it’s not for his desire to stay with the Blackhawks, sign an extension, and retire having played all of his NHL games in one uniform. It’s because his body is not cooperating with him and his own desires to play hockey at the level he and the Blackhawks universe has wants him to play. Toews released a statement addressing his health issues, saying that his body has been battling through “Long COVID” and “Chronic Immune Response Syndrome” symptoms seemingly all season, and his recent absence is due to those symptoms again.
Following the release of the statement, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson addressed the media. The focus in the immediate moment was on what this meant for Toews and the Blackhawks regarding the March 3 trade deadline. Davidson said that nothing changes for their trade deadline plans outside of Toews, but that he will not be moved and the focus is on his health.
“We’re going to continue to work with him and support him with whatever he needs to make sure he continues to feel good and feel strong enough to get back on the ice,” Davidson said prior to the Blackhawks taking on the Maple Leafs on Sunday. “We’re trying to help him get back to full strength. [The trade deadline] is totally secondary.”
The health of the Blackhawks Captain has been a storyline surrounding him since he missed all of the abbreviated 2020-21 season due to his bout with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. Whether his health has been the primary, secondary, or tertiary storyline around him has fluctuated since then. Now it is once again the primary focus for him, but it is nothing new this season. Davidson said of Toews’ battle against the symptoms this season, “It has been an ongoing thing. It started previous to the All-Star break. It’s not something that just came up. We’ve been dealing with it alongside him for some time now.”
Toews has said on numerous occasions that he feels like he still has a few years of hockey left in him. There is a world in which he plays out those years that he believes he still has and there is a world in which he does that with the Blackhawks.
Davidson said that although Toews will not be moved at the March 3 trade deadline, there still needs to be discussions about his future in hockey beyond that and whether or not they involve the Blackhawks. “I think those are discussions that remain to be had. I think that’s a two-way street and it’s something we’ll get to once we figure out where we’re at on March 4.”
For now, the hope is that Toews can recover from his current spell of health issues and return to the ice before the end of the season with the Blackhawks. If that’s the case, that’s great news for him and his personal health.
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