It has not been a good offseason for the Chicago Blackhawks, who are now facing the prospect of playing the upcoming NHL season without their captain.
The hockey world was rattled Tuesday when the Blackhawks announced that captain Jonathan Toews would not report to training camp and is out indefinitely due to a medical condition.
“This offseason, I’ve been experiencing symptoms that have left me feeling drained and lethargic,” the Winnipeg native said in a statement.
“I am working with doctors so I can better understand my condition.”
It is a startling revelation from one of the game’s best, and most reliable, competitors.
The 32-year-old center had 18 goals and 42 assists in 70 games during the COVID-19-plagued 2019-20 season, including five goals and four assists in Chicago’s nine games in the NHL’s summer in the bubble.
“Until I can get my health back to a place where I feel I can perform at an elite level and help my team, I will not be joining the Blackhawks for training camp,” said Toews. “I do not have a timetable for when I will rejoin the team. I am disappointed, but it wouldn’t be fair to myself or my teammates to attempt to play in my current condition.”
The statement did not reveal a diagnosis, including whether it is related to the novel coronavirus, but the fact of the matter is Toews has joined a growing list of star players who will not be on the ice when the league’s 56-game season begins on Jan. 13.
That list includes ‘Hawks teammate Kirby Dach, who will be out four to five months with a broken wrist after getting injured in Canada’s tune up game for the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton.
Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist will miss the season after undergoing open-heart surgery, and at age 38 he may have played his last game in the NHL, and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov won’t play this year because of hip surgery.
It is tough to see some of the game’s biggest stars sidelined by serious injuries, but I think I speak for all fans who are hoping to see Toews back on the ice in the very near future.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.