The Chicago Blackhawks bid farewell to Jonathan Toews in a heartfelt final game back in April. It might be that Toews was also saying goodbye to the NHL as well.
When CAA agency sent its list of free agents to NHL teams prior to July 1, the list excluded client Jonathan Toews.
It does not sound, at this time, like he will play next season. Final decision not yet made. https://t.co/gGtFZcgUlM
— Mark Spector🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@SportsnetSpec) July 7, 2023
Toews played just 53 games and missed a couple months last season due to chronic immune response syndrome and long COVID. The Blackhawks informed Toews they would not be offering a new contract, which set off an emotional goodbye to Toews in Chicago’s final home game of the season. He would score a goal but Chicago fell 5-4 in overtime.
With Spector’s note that he was not included in the list, it seems likely Toews has potentially played his final games in the league. Regardless, the last one at the United Center was probably the most fitting way for him to end his career.
Nearly 10 Year Since the Historic Contract Signed
It was just nine years ago that the Blackhawks inked both Patrick Kane and Toews to eight-year, $84M deals. This on the heels of just missing another Stanley Cup Final appearance. The Blackhawks fell in overtime to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final in a back and forth Game 7.
On this day in 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed matching 8-year, $84M contract extensions with the #Blackhawks
Making both of them, at the time, the highest paid players in the NHL (based on cap hit) pic.twitter.com/AyjRyYxucw
— CHGO Blackhawks (@CHGO_Blackhawks) July 9, 2023
The deal was lucrative but worth it. Chicago had two Cups in its arsenal already and would win again a season later, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
It would be two more playoff appearances after that, but both ending in bitter first round losses. The 2020 playoff bubble would see Chicago defeat Edmonton in the play-in but fall to Vegas in five games during the first round.
Kane was traded to the Rangers back in February.
A Fitting Finale for Toews in Chicago
It would have bene sweeter with confetti and a Stanley Cup, but Toews at least was sent off with a roar from the crowd, the loudest the Madhouse had been for a few seasons. It wasn’t for lack of passion–there just hadn’t been much to cheer for. Weeks later, the Blackhawks would get the right to choose first and would take Connor Bedard, setting up for Blackhawks fans what hopes to be another generation of winning.
It will still feel weird not seeing #19 skating around the ice. Even stranger when there is a formal announcement.
But it likely won’t be long until that #19 is hanging in the rafters with the other Blackhawks greats.