Jonathan Toews said he plans to return to the Chicago Blackhawks next season after missing this season because of Chronic Immune Response Syndrome.
“I’m excited to get back to the United Center and play and just go out there and have fun,” the 33-year-old forward said in a Twitter video released Wednesday. “I think my best is going to come through and I’m excited to get back in front of the fans.”
Toews announced Dec. 29, 2020 that he was taking a medical leave of absence.
“I just think there’s a lot of things that just kind of piled up where my body just fell apart,” Toews said. “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.
“It took some time, and that was the frustrating part, was not knowing really when or how we were going to get over the hump. But thankfully I’ve got a great support team of people that helped me through it. I learned a lot about the stress I put on my body over the years.”
Toews last played in 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 a five-game loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round.
“I definitely felt bad to a certain degree that people were that worried,” he said. “They thought it was really serious but in the back of my mind, I knew I’d get through it. It was just a matter of time.”
The No. 3 selection in the 2006 NHL Draft, Toews has scored 815 points (345 goals, 470 assists) in 943 games, all for the Blackhawks. He won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the most valuable player in the 2010 playoffs, when he scored 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 22 games.
The video shows Toews skating at Fifth Third Arena, the Blackhawks training facility. When he arrived in Chicago and resumed skating is unknown.
“It’s been a long time,” Toews said. “Honestly, I haven’t taken this much time off the ice probably ever, since I was a kid at least. So it’s definitely nice to be back, see some of the guys again, just slowly but surely kind of settle into the life and to the routine again. So it’s a good feeling right now.