Jonathan Toews pens goodbye letter to Blackhawks fans after stepping away from NHL

The longest serving captain in Chicago Blackhawks history leaves behind a complicated legacy.

Longtime captain Jonathan Toews is saying goodbye to Blackhawks fans and the city of Chicago, with the franchise icon penning a heartfelt Instagram post on Thursday.

Toews began his lengthy tribute by thanking Blackhawks fans and describing "feeling a true connection to the people of this city" of Chicago.

It’s hard to find words to describe the 16-year journey that has made this city my home.

Aside from the 3 Stanley Cups, the parades, and the countless memories made with my teammates, what is still most special to me was feeling a true connection to the people of this city.

To Blackhawks fans, it was surreal to witness and be a part of the revival of hockey in Chicago. There was nothing like the roar of the Madhouse when we scored a big goal to tie it or win it late in a game. As players, we tried to reciprocate that heart and soul energy we felt from you. I honestly believe it’s what made us so tough to beat in the later games of a playoff series. You are the best fans in the world, and I’m so thankful we shared so many special moments together.

Toews went on to thank members of the organization — right down to equipment trainers and strength coaches — while also thanking teammates, whom he considers "lifelong friends and brothers."

On April 13, the Blackhawks announced that they would not re-sign Toews. On Thursday, the future Hall of Famer confirmed he is not fully retiring, but is planning on "taking time away" during the 2023-24 season.

For Blackhawks fans and teammates, it’s surely a wistful goodbye.

Toews won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, grabbing a Conn Smythe Trophy and winning a Selke Trophy along the way. It’s been a painful final few seasons for Toews, as he’s suffered from health issues related to COVID while the team missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and five of their last six.

By winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, many fans in Chicago may believe that the torch has already been passed. This announcement really cements the end of an era.

Toews thanks Blackhawks teammates, staff in Instagram letter

After thanking teammates and the city of Chicago as a whole, Toews also said goodbye to Blackhawks staff and teammates. Here’s the remainder of his letter.

To the Blackhawks Organization, the late Rocky, Danny and the Wirtz family, all of my coaches, GM’s, athletic and equipment trainers, strength coaches, scouting staff and all those that put it all together. It is not lost on me that all the work you do behind the scenes leads to all of our success on the ice. You showed up every day to help all of us achieve our dreams and for that I am forever grateful.

To my Blackhawks teammates, I consider you all lifelong friends and brothers. We share a bond that’s hard to break. Whether you reach the mountain top or not, we can all agree it’s grinding through the tough moments together that we’ll really miss.

To all of you I say, THANK YOU. You made my time here in Chicago unforgettable.

Toews issued a heartfelt statement thanking fans, teammates and staff while sharing his plans to take
Toews issued a heartfelt statement thanking fans, teammates and staff while sharing his plans to take "time away" from the game next season. (Getty)

It’s difficult to ignore the uglier moments of this era of Blackhawks hockey (perhaps it’s fitting that Toews’ video begins with a draft announcement by disgraced former executive Dale Tallon), so outsiders might cringe at Toews going out of his way to mention staff members and teammates. That feeling permeates even without a direct mention of Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville.

Ultimately, the good and the bad are all intertwined in the legacy of a dynastic team and its memorable captain, even as Toews appears focused on the more glorious moments.