The Chicago Blackhawks will enter the bizarre 2020-21 season without Jonathan Toews. He will miss the start of the year due to an illness. This is another blow to a Chicago team that was likely going to struggle through the year. Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger confirmed Toews’ absence early Tuesday morning. In a statement released by the Blackhawks, there is no timetable for Toews to return to the team.
As per @DarrenDreger and me, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews won't be at camp and will miss the start of the season due to illness. Expect official announcement shortly from the team.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 29, 2020
Blackhawks to Start Season Without Jonathan Toews
The 32-year-old Toews remains a vital cog in Chicago’s system despite being outside of what is traditionally considered prime years. He finished second on the team in scoring in 2019-20 with 18 goals and 60 points in 70 games. His scoring rate fell slightly from .99 points per game in 2018-19 to .86, but that is still a very good figure. However, in the NHL’s return to play in the summer Toews looked like his old self recording nine points in nine games. Toews’ possession stats also stayed above the 50 percent mark. Age could catch up to a skater in his 30s at any point, but it hasn’t happened yet for the Blackhawks’ star.
Chicago originally drafted Toews in the first round of the 2006 Draft and he debuted the following year in 2007-08. He burst onto the scene with 24 goals and 54 points in 64 games en route to an All-Rookie selection, an All-Star appearance, and a third-place finish in the Calder Trophy race. He finished behind only Nicklas Backstrom and teammate Patrick Kane. Toews has also won the Conn Smythe, the Selke Trophy, and the Mark Messier Award. His numbers and awards simply reflect one of the best players of this era.
How Chicago Adjusts Without Toews
Chicago was already missing an exciting piece of the 2020-21 season when Kirby Dach fell to a wrist injury at the World Juniors. He and Toews represent Chicago’s best centres and their absences will hurt. The most likely player to fill the top-line centre role between Kane and Dominik Kubalik is Dylan Strome. However, the Blackhawks did sign veteran Carl Soderberg, who might need to slide into that role for a very brief time. It will be interesting to watch how the team handles Toews’ absence while we all wish him a speedy recovery.
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