Chicago Blackhawks veteran center Jonathan Toews returned to practice on Tuesday after two months away, telling reporters afterward that he's aware his time with the club -- and possibly in the NHL -- could be winding down.
Toews, 34, last played in a game Jan. 28 and has been sidelined since then with what he's revealed was the effects of long COVID-19 and chronic immune response syndrome. The latter condition kept him out for the entire 2020-21 season amid the pandemic.
"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 told reporters at the team's morning skate before hosting the Dallas Stars. "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."
Toews did not offer a timeline for if and when he would return to game action. Chicago (24-43-6, 54 points) has long been out of the running for a playoff spot and has just nine regular-season games remaining, starting against Dallas.
"Regardless, I wouldn't say to expect much," Toews said. "But I'm just going to try and go out there and play with energy and have some fun, so we'll see when that might be."
Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson told reporters he was hopeful Toews can take another step later this week and could eventually give the team "the green light" to play in a game.
"We're just going to go day by day here," Richardson said. "He deserves anything he wants to try to achieve here."
In 15 NHL seasons, all with Chicago, Toews has tallied 880 points (371 goals, 509 assists) across 1,060 games. He is the team's captain, was named one of the NHL's 100 greatest players of all time in 2017 and was part of the franchise's three Stanley Cup victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015, alongside longtime teammate Patrick Kane.
Kane was dealt to the New York Rangers ahead of the trade deadline on Feb. 28 as the Blackhawks continue to rebuild. Toews said the trade "shocked" him but that it was good that Kane will be headed to the playoffs with his new team.
Toews had 14 goals and 14 assists in 46 games for Chicago this season before his leave of absence.
--Field Level Media