Jonathan Toews “looks great” during summer workouts as the Chicago Blackhawks captain prepares for this season, Connor Murphy said Wednesday.
“It’s cool to see,” said the defenseman, who signed a four-year, $17.6 million contract extension ($4.4 million average annual value) with the Blackhawks on Tuesday.
“Right when (Toews) came in, he had the same drive and excitement he’s always had to train hard and work on his game. That never changes with him. I just definitely see the excitement in him, being back at the rink and on the ice with teammates, so it makes you feel good knowing how hard it is to miss time.”
Toews did not play last season. The center announced Dec. 29 that he was taking a medical leave of absence, after experiencing symptoms that left him feeling drained and lethargic.
“I just think there’s a lot of things that just kind of piled up where my body just fell apart,” Toews said June 30. “So, what they’re calling it is chronic immune response syndrome, where I just couldn’t quite recover, and my immune system was reacting to everything I did, any kind of stress, anything that I would do throughout the day. It was always kind of a stress response.”
In a June 30 video posted on Twitter, Toews skated at the Blackhawks practice facility. It’s unknown when he arrived in Chicago or resumed skating.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Aug. 2 that Toews had no timetable to return, but he is optimistic the center will play at some point this season. The Blackhawks open the regular season Oct. 13 at the Colorado Avalanche. Training camp begins mid-September.
“Same answer I gave the other day, which is, we’re all hopeful that he continues on his path and training and feeling better. Nothing’s derailed that,” Bowman said. “But with what he’s gone through, we don’t know where it’s going to be. So here we are today, things are looking good, and that’s our thought moving forward.”
Toews last played during the 2019-20 season, when he scored 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) in 70 games. He scored nine points (five goals, four assists) in nine games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers before they were eliminated in five games by the Vegas Golden Knights in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round.
Selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 3 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Toews has scored 815 points (345 goals, 470 assists) in 943 regular-season games and 119 points (45 goals, 74 assists) in 137 postseason games. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. In 2010 he won the Conn Smythe Trophy, voted as the most valuable player in the playoffs, after scoring 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 22 games.
“With him, he puts so much pressure on himself to be that top leader and guy he’s been for this organization for so many years, it’s nice to see him finally get rewarded to be healthy, back on the ice and ready to go,” Murphy said of Toews. “He looks great and it’s been really fun having him back around.”