Jonathan Toews will not play in the NHL in 2023-24, though he has not ruled out a return in the future.
The 35-year-old free agent forward used a pair of Instagram posts Thursday to thank the Blackhawks and the city of Chicago for his “surreal” time with them, and to say that he is focusing on overcoming his ongoing health challenges.
Toews missed all of the 2020-21 season and part of 2022-23 while dealing with symptoms of long COVID-19 and chronic immune response syndrome. In April, Toews played in what was billed as his “final game as a Blackhawk” as the Blackhawks decided they would not re-sign him beyond last season.
“I’d like to announce that I am not fully retiring, but I am taking time away from the game again this season,” Toews wrote Thursday. “I cannot deny my love for the game of hockey and still feel the passion for competing at my highest level.
“However, these last few seasons have been very difficult considering my health challenges. My focus is to give myself the time and space to fully heal and enjoy life to the fullest once again. Along the way I have met several people who have struggled with health issues pertaining to long COVID, chronic immune response syndrome, and other similar cases that are quite complex. I now recognize the importance of one day sharing the details of my health journey with you all.”
A few hours before that post, Toews wrote that “it was surreal to witness and be a part of the revival of hockey in Chicago,” where he helped the Blackhawks win three Stanley Cups.
“There was nothing like the roar of the Madhouse when we scored a big goal to tie it or win it late in a game,” Toews wrote. “As players, we tried to reciprocate that heart and soul energy we felt from you (fans). I honestly believe it’s what made us so tough to beat in the later games of a playoff series. You are the best fans in the world, and I’m so thankful we shared so many special moments together.”
In a 15-season career spent entirely with the Blackhawks — serving as their captain for 14 years — Toews tallied 883 points (372 goals, 511 assists) in 1,067 games. He saw the ice in 53 games last season, putting up 15 goals and 16 assists.
Toews was named to the league’s “100 Greatest NHL Players” list in 2017 and also won two gold medals with Canada in the Winter Olympics (2010, 2014). He was the No. 3 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft.
—Field Level Media