On March 28th, we covered reports stating that Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was attempting to make a comeback from the injuries that sidelined him indefinitely earlier this year in order to play some more games before the end of this season.
With Toews reportedly considering retirement, it seemed as though he may have a desire to have a final send-off from Blackhawks fans, similar to the one Carey Price received last season after making his way back from significant health-related challenges.
With the Blackhawks set to take on the New Jersey Devils in a nationally-televised home game tomorrow, it seems Toews will get his wish. Chicago head coach Luke Richardson told the media, including NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis, that Toews will play in Saturday’s game. It will be Toews’ 47th game of his season, and his first since late January.
In February, Toews issued a statement detailing some of the health-related challenges he was facing, challenges that were seriously threatening his ability to play. In that statement, he disclosed that he was “still dealing with the symptoms of Long COVID and Chronic Immune Response Syndrome,” and that he had “reached the point where [he] had no choice but to step back and concentrate on getting healthy.”
Thankfully, today’s announcement indicates that Toews’ health has improved since that point, which even putting aside any hockey-related considerations is news to celebrate.
From an on-the-ice perspective, Toews’ improved health also means a great deal to the Blackhawks. While the team is currently in prime contention to earn the best odds for the upcoming draft lottery, Toews’ return isn’t about giving the team a better chance of winning some of the few games they have left this season.
Instead, Toews’ return injects some much-needed meaning and significance to what remains of the Blackhawks’ season, as it could be Blackhawks fans’ final few chances to see a franchise icon take the United Center ice.
So while Blackhawks fans and the Chicago market overall remain wholly fixated on the future and the players who might enter the organization in the coming months, Toews’ return serves as an important opportunity for the organization to celebrate its past, and potentially say an official goodbye to the leader of the most successful era in Blackhawks history.