Jonathan Toews spoke to the media on Tuesday after taking the ice with his Chicago Blackhawks teammates for practice. Noting that he’s grateful to everyone in Chicago for offering him the opportunities they have so far in his career, he said, “It’s definitely on my mind that this could be my last few weeks in Chicago as a Blackhawk.”
Toews won’t play on Tuesday as the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars but he’s trying to get up to speed enough to play at least one more game before the 2022-23 season comes to a close. He noted, “That’s definitely very important for me to just go out there, enjoy the game, 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.”
If he can find a way to get into one more game, specifically in Chicago, Toews can potentially say goodbye on his own terms — in a manner of speaking.
Dealing with long COVID symptoms and chronic immune response syndrome is obviously not the reason he wanted his NHL career to potentially end. He was getting better until he was forced to shut himself down in January of this year as problems worsened. Now, even though he’s a pending UFA and could sign a one-year deal to play with another team and take one more run at a Stanley Cup, there’s no guarantee that he’d be able to continue his career. This could be his final farewell to the NHL, assuming he can get into close enough game shape to take a few shifts in one of the team’s remaining few contests.
Could He Sign Elsewhere If He Feels Good Enough?
If Toews has a good offseason and feels like he’s got enough juice left to make one more run with another team, he seems more open to the idea of playing elsewhere than ever before. When asked about Patrick Kane joining the New York Rangers, Toews said, “It kinda looks good on him, to be honest. I hate to say that.”
Any team looking at Toews would likely only be interested if he signs for close to the league minimum. He might be willing to do so for one more chance at winning it all, but there’s no telling if his symptoms will come and go next year and that might be too much to ask another team to take on as a risk. They’d need a financial incentive to do so.
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