Candid Jonathan Toews Talks Future, Health, Priorities … Kane in a Rangers Sweater
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews showed up at the team’s mornings skate on Tuesday, a welcome sign that he’s working his way back to good enough health to hopefully join the team on the ice for game action before the end of the season.
After the practice, Toews spoke with the media at length for the first time in almost two months about where he’s at physically and what he’s been working through since taking a step back from the team at the end of January.
Captain Serious was still serious. But he was also candid and vulnerable in speaking about his time in Chicago and his priorities now in life, much less as a hockey player.
“I’ve gotten to the point where my health is more important,” Toews said on Tuesday. “I know I could, as I’ve kind of shown these last few years even though I have my own personal standards and not happy with the way I’ve performed and I feel like I have much more to give with my experience in the game and knowing how to play the game, but when day after day is just you’re just pushing through pain, it’s just like, to what end?
“I think when you’re young and you’re playing for a Stanley Cup, and everyone’s playing through something, that means something and it’s worthwhile. But I’m at that point where it feels like more damage is being done than is a good thing.
“And so yeah, I’m committed to get back to a place where, like I said, I’m enjoying the game, got energy to not only go out there and play the game at the level I know that I can, but also have the energy left over to enjoy the life and enjoy my time with my teammates.”
During the skate, Toews had a smile on his face and was clearly enjoying being back on the ice with his teammates. He joked around with Alex Stalock and Seth Jones and took some line rushes. He looked like Jonathan Toews.
In the dressing room after practice, he looked good. He looked healthy. And he had the same smile on his face at times as he spoke with the media.
But there was an underlying sense of finality to it all. He was asked about seeing Patrick Kane get traded, and said it was a little weird coming back into a room without 88 having a stall. He joked that Kane looked good in a Rangers jersey and that they — the Rangers and their fans — should be excited about having him in the fold.
That also transitioned to a conversation about his future. Toews is an unrestricted free agent this summer and his health is clearly a more significant concern now. He was asked if he was contemplating retirement, and he wouldn’t directly say this is it. But he was also transparent about the reality of the situation.
“Regardless of what happens in the future this summer, it’s definitely on my mind that this could be my last few weeks here in Chicago as a Blackhawk,” Toews said. “And so that’s definitely very important for me to just go out there and enjoy the game and just kind of soak it in and just really appreciate everything I’ve been able to be a part of here in Chicago and show my appreciation to the fans as well.”