Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss the start of training camp because of an illness, and there is no timetable for his return.
The 32-year-old Toews said Tuesday he has been experiencing symptoms that have left him feeling “drained and lethargic.”
“I am extremely disappointed, but it wouldn’t be fair to myself or my teammates to attempt to play in my current condition,” Toews said in a release.
The loss of Toews is the biggest blow in a tough stretch for Chicago heading into the 56-game season, which begins on Jan. 13. The veteran centre, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Blackhawks, had 18 goals and 42 assists in 70 games last season, but he also is one of the team’s best defensive forwards and face-off options.
The announcement of Toews’ illness comes in the wake of injuries for Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander that could sidelined the young forwards for the entire season. Dach had surgery Monday after he fractured his right wrist while playing for Canada’s world junior team during an exhibition last week. Nylander had surgery on Dec. 21 for a meniscus tear in his left knee.
The Blackhawks made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2017, but they were eliminated by Vegas in the first round. Veteran goaltender Corey Crawford then left in free agency as part of the team’s increased commitment to rebuilding, and Brandon Saad was traded to Colorado.
The additions of Mattias Janmark, Lucas Wallmark and Carl Soderberg — all responsible, two-way forwards — should help Chicago stay in games, but the loss of Toews for any extended period would be tough for the team to overcome.
“Jonathan’s health is our top priority as he deals with this medical issue,” President of Hockey Operations Stan Bowman said. “The Chicago Blackhawks organization and our medical staff will provide all necessary resources to help him return to playing hockey. While he will not report to training camp on January 3 and will be out indefinitely, we will continue to support him as he is an important part of our family.”
Toews was selected by Chicago with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 entry draft. He has 345 goals and 470 assists in 943 regular-season games. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP when he led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup championship in 2010. He captained the team to the title again in 2013 and 2015.
There was no word from Toews or the team on what might be causing his symptoms, and he asked for privacy while he focuses on his health and recovery.
“The health and privacy of all our players is paramount to the Chicago Blackhawks organization,” Bowman said. “We care about Jonathan, and we know how badly he wants to be with his teammates competing on the ice. We will provide further updates on his status as circumstances change and do not have a timetable for his return.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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Jay Cohen, The Associated Press