On the last day of June, Jonathan Toews shared a video explained how missed the entire 2021 season due to what is being called chronic immune response syndrome. While there is no timetable for Toews’ return, the captain is in Chicago and has been working out with his teammates and answered questions of his diagnosis on Thursday.
Which only raised more questions…
As Toews talked about the lethargy that affected him back in the 2020 postseason in the Edmonton bubble and how it prevented him from playing the entire 2021 campaign, he mentioned how COVID-19 aftereffects impacted him as well.
This got a lot of folks wondering if Toews got the wrong diagnosis from the start and was a victim of the pandemic. He remains reluctant to make his story specifically about either COVID or CIRS.
“It’s never that simple,” he said. “My health kind of hit a wall, and a lot of things add up to that. The last 10-plus years here in Chicago have gone by in a flash because it’s been one thing all the time. That adds up. It takes a toll on you in a lot of ways: mentally, physically and emotionally.
“It was good for me to check out and try and pick the pieces back up and come back to the game with a new approach and a new appreciation for it.”
After a year off, Toews does not want to think about the past and focuses on the future, especially being in the Hawks’ lineup for the season opener next month.
“As dog-tired as I was out there today, it’s a good feeling,” he said. “Instead of, ‘OK, I’m in trouble; I’m going to be up on the couch for two days doing nothing.’ So to me, that’s progress. [I’m] just feeling a lot better.”
“I’m just taking one day at a time,” he said. “That’s all I can -really handle right now.”
The three-time Stanley Cup champion had 18 goals and 60 points in 70 games during the 2019-20 season. In 943 career games, he has 345 goals and 470 assists.
Whenever he will return to the Blackhawks’ lineup, Toews will notice how much it has changed since he last played in the team’s uniform: the team added defenseman Seth Jones and Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury after trading long-time blue liner Duncan Keith.
“[I will] try to make some of these new guys feel included so they don’t have to walk on eggshells in that locker room. This is their room, so we can all kind of feed off each other that way.”
Chicago finished sixth in the Central Division last season with a 24-25-7 record.