By: Alex Patt
It was really tough to hear that long-time Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was not going to play to start the 2021 season. Toews is suffering from an undisclosed illness, and his timetable to return to the ice is unknown. He was officially placed on long-term IR back on January 14th.
Hockey is typically better than any other professional sport at being tight-lipped about injuries and other behind-the-scenes occurrences. Remember when Marian Hossa had to retire because of the skin condition? The public was unaware he had spent years battling the skin condition. Regarding Toews, we have absolutely no true idea what is going on with him. Rumors are swirling, but there are no verified facts about what is wrong with Toews.
The biggest priority for Toews is his personal health, and he has to do whatever is best for him. His playing career comes second next to his physical well-being. That said, I really hope he gets well enough so he can play again. Toews is tied with Anthony Rizzo as my favorite athlete in Chicago.
It is hard to believe Toews has been a Blackhawks since 2006. He has been captain of the team since 2008 and is eighth in games played in franchise history at 943. His resume includes: 345 goals, 815 points, 45 playoff goals, 15 overtime goals, three Stanley Cup championships, two Olympic gold medals, IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey gold winner, 2010 Conn Smythe winner, 2013 Frank J. Selke winner and 2015 Mark Messier Leadership Award winner.
Not only is he a great player, but a great leader and role model. His contributions to charity, his helping of young kids, and the praise he frequently gets from teammates has helped give him the reputation he has. I also have to give him props for speaking the truth about how he feels about the current direction of the team. It is very hard not to like or at least respect the accomplishments of Toews.
It is crazy to think that he is only 32 years old. He made his NHL debut at age 19 and won his first Stanley Cup at 22. In terms of his current age he has a ton of hockey left in him, but we do not know how his current condition will effect his future. When and if he will play again will be something only time will tell.
At the end of the day the legacy of Jonathan Toews is sealed. He could retire right now and he will be cemented as one of the most important players in Blackhawks history. His name and number will certainly be hung in the United Center rafters one day. Heck, he will (or at least should) go down as one of the most important athletes in the history of Chicago sports.
He is not the flashiest player, nor is he as talented as his longtime teammate Patrick Kane, but he is still one of hockey’s elite. I can speak for Blackhawks fans and other hockey followers alike that his presence is missed and we pray he recovers from the illness he is suffering from.