It Sounds Like Jonathan Toews Isn’t Interested in Seeing the Blackhawks Rebuild Through
When the Chicago Blackhawks traded Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach on draft night, it signaled the start of what Kyle Davidson promised when he was hired as the permanent GM last season: a rebuild from the ground up.
Pat Brisson, the agent for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, said the two stars would have a conversation with Kyle Davidson after the draft. During the Blackhawks development camp earlier this month, Kyle Davidson and Luke Richardson said that they had “healthy conversations” with Toews and Kane, and at that point, it seemed like the two were going to be sticking around for the start of the NHL season.
That might still hold true in the end, simply because teams have made the bulk of their moves for the offseason at this point, but now it sounds like Jonathan Toews has a better idea of what his future looks like, and it doesn’t seem to include the Blackhawks.
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic‘s Mark Lazerus, Toews revealed that Kyle Davidson has made it clear that the Blackhawks’ rebuild is one that will be a “five-plus-year process,” and the Blackhawks captain admitted that the prospects of losing for that long doesn’t sound appealing to him as he enters his 16th season in the NHL at 34-years-old.
“At the end of the day, we’re talking about a five-plus-year process, according to Kyle,” Toews said. “So that part of it doesn’t sound appealing to me at all. I can’t speak for Kaner, but I definitely feel that the amount of turnover our team has gone through every single year these last three or four years, that’s where it gets really, really draining. And exhausting. You have a guy like Alex DeBrincat, who was under Kaner’s wing. And I like to think that Kirby and I had that bond in some ways, too. And out they go, out the door. Over and over, we’ve seen that turnover. I’m learning to be more patient, but there’s no doubt that timeline is pretty daunting, and pretty exhausting to think about. So I’m not going to sit here and say what I’m going to do or what the future holds for me because I really don’t know.”
Toews told Lazerus that he’s physically ready for the NHL season, saying he’s 34 “going on 25,” but it doesn’t sound like he’s prepared to play a role in Kyle Davidson’s new-look vision for the Blackhawks.
Even now, knowing that Toews doesn’t feel he has the desire to be here through the rebuild, there’s a slim chance that Toews gets dealt before the season starts. For any trade, whether it be now or before the 2022-23 trade deadline, Toews will have to waive his no-movement clause for the Blackhawks to trade him, something he’s well aware of and admitted he couldn’t say he wouldn’t be interested in exploring a new situation if the right one arises this season.
“If I don’t play good hockey, what value do I have anyway?” he said with a wry grin. “But I’m not going to say that if I’m playing some of the best hockey in my career and a great fit and a great opportunity arises that I might not just go see what that looks like, and see what that feels like. Just for the fun of it.”
Still, even if a desirable situation arose for Toews on the trade market during the season, it would involve some mathematical maneuvering. It’s doubtful any team takes on his entire cap hit, so the Blackhawks would have to eat half of it and maybe even take a bad contract back. It’s not impossible. It’s also not a sure thing.
There’s always the chance that nothing transpires on the trade market for Toews this season for one reason or another, in which case this season would almost surely be a farewell tour for the Blackhawks captain, who will become a UFA at the end of the season, giving him the opportunity to choose where he wants to finish his career.
There are questions to be answered in the coming months, but at least our suspicions have been confirmed. Jonathan Toews is not willing to see the rebuild in Chicago through. Whenever the question of when Toews departs is answered, it’ll be a warm goodbye for a Blackhawks legend, so enjoy him in 19 red while you can.