Over the course of the next month, Chicago Hockey Now will be profiling every Chicago Blackhawks player from the 2022-23 season. Today, we begin with Captain Jonathan Toews.
Games Played: 53
(Goals – Assists – Points): 15-16-31
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
The Short View
Toews started the 2022-23 season on fire, picking up nine points (7-2) in his first dozen games. It looked like Toews was set for a renaissance but it wasn’t to be. Illness flared again, and Toews missed over two months before returning again on April 1st against New Jersey. Prior to missing those couple of months, the captain played 46 games with 14 goals and 14 assists.
Chicago wasn’t making the playoffs, but they had one more thing set for its captain.
The Long View
When general manager Kyle Davidson revealed the Blackhawks would not offer Toews a new contract, it was truly the end of an era. The 35-year-old had the “C” sewn on his sweater at the beginning of the 2008-09 season, and even then no one could truly envision what he would achieve.
Three Stanley Cups. Two Olympic Gold Medals. A Conn Smythe Trophy. Even a Selke Award for the league’s best defensive forward.
As recently as 2019, Toews was still putting up gaudy numbers, registering 81 points (35-46) in 82 games. A season later, he fell to 61 points but still showed flashes of the player Chicago fans were accustomed to. But health issues would wipe out his 2021 campaign and the Toews so many remembered just wasn’t the same.
But those last pair of years really don’t matter to fans of the Blackhawks or for those who idolize him. The Toews they remember is the one who had a starring role in the three Stanley Cup titles. The one who zipped in alone against the Blues in Game 5 of the 2014 Western Conference quarterfinal, going backhand to bury the Blues yet again.
Or how about the Toews who scored two goals in the dying moments of the third against Anaheim back in 2015? With the Blackhawks chasing a two-goal deficit, it was Toews who singlehandedly forced overtime. Chicago would go on to lose the game, but would ultimately take the series. Why? Toews again, potting the first two goals in the pivotal Game 7. Chicago would skate away with a 5-3 victory and then with the Stanley Cup in the next round for the third time in six seasons.
— CBS Sports NHL (@CBSSportsNHL) May 31, 2015
In his final game with Chicago, he scored his final goal, sending the United Center into absolute bedlam. The fitting end it seemed was as storybook as it should have been. It didn’t end in confetti raining down with Lord Stanley’s Cup waiting for Toews once more. It certainly came with a little less fanfare.
But Chicago got to see its beloved captain off one last time. He responded with another memory for the masses, and cementing his legacy as one of the greatest Blackhawks of all time.
The Bottom Line
Toews might look around in free agency, but reading the tea leaves, it sure feels like there isn’t a better way to cap 15 seasons in Chicago any better than how it ended at the United Center. It was the closest version of the “old days” that Chicago’s fans and players had experienced in some time.
Toews is a sure-fire, first ballot hall of fame player. His #19 will hang in the rafters. It really seems the final chapter of Toews and the Blackhawks was written this past April 13.
It truly shouldn’t be any other way.