The end of the line may be near for a Chicago Blackhawks legend.
In the wake of persistent long COVID symptoms and chronic immune response syndrome, which have limited him to just 46 games this season, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is reportedly considering retirement.
According to a report from John Dietz of The Daily Herald, Toews has seriously contemplated stepping away from the game, with the Blackhawks having made preparations internally should that decision come to pass.
Despite those whispers, the 34-year-old has been with the team for the past two weeks and attended multiple recent home games, while the Blackhawks continue to say publicly that they’re hopeful for a return.
“I know he's chomping at the bit to take the next step," Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. "Just hopefully he gets there."
Toews has been out of the lineup since Jan. 28 and had missed multiple games this season with “non-COVID Illness” before he released a statement in mid-February clarifying his situation.
“It has been really challenging to play through these symptoms,” Toews said in the release. “In the past few weeks it has reached a point where I had no choice but to step back and concentrate on getting healthy.”
Should Toews ultimately choose to step away from the game, the Winnipeg native will leave a lasting impression not only on the only franchise he has ever known, but on the entire NHL.
A three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Toews is recognized for both his excellent play on the ice, as well as his exceptional leadership off it.
His steady demeanour famously earned him the moniker Captain Serious and helped make him the third youngest permanent captain in NHL history at the time of the honor and fifth youngest ever. He’s also the longest tenured captain in Blackhawks history, a mark he leads by nearly 500 games over his closest peer.
As for his on-ice excellence, Toews’ 1,060 games rank fifth amongst the near-100-year history of the Blackhawks organization, while his 880 points rank seventh all-time for the storied franchise.
Toews is in the final year of his eight-year, $84-million contract. He has 14 goals and 28 points in 46 games this season.