CHICAGO — The longtime captain of the Blackhawks had two things to say on social media on Thursday – one saying thanks to his former team and the other his intention for the 2023-2024 season.
On Instagram on Thursday, Toews posted a lengthy thank you to the Blackhawks along with their fans four months after taking the ice with the franchise for the final time. Hours later, he announced on the social media platform that he was not retiring, but rather stepping away from the NHL for the 2023-2024 season.
The Blackhawks announced before the season finale that a contract extension would not be offered to the captain, who has spent his entire NHL career with the franchise. Toews is a free agent, but won’t sign anywhere this offseason.
Here is the statement he released on Instagram on Thursday.
I’d like to announce that I am not fully retiring, but I am taking time away from the game again this season. I cannot deny my love for the game of hockey and still feel the passion for competing at my highest level.
However, these last few seasons have been very difficult considering my health challenges. My focus is to give myself the time and space to fully heal and enjoy life to the fullest once again. Along the way I have met several people who have struggled with health issues pertaining to long COVID, chronic immune response syndrome, and other similar cases that are quite complex. I now recognize the importance of one day sharing the details of my health journey with you all.
Thank you to all of you who have supported me and respected my privacy in the process.
Earlier in the day on Instagram, Toews had one last thank you for the Blackhawks and Chicago in a video post on the social media platform.
Here is the text of Toews’ message to the Blackhawks and Chicago fans on that post.
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.
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.
Drafted by the Blackhawks with the third overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Toews played 15 seasons with the team, missing only the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign due to illness. Named the captain early in his tenure with the team, Toews was a big part of the resurrection of the franchise that had struggled for a decade.
With the captain leading the way, the Blackhawks made nine-straight playoff appearances and won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015. In that first championship run, he was named the Conn Smythe trophy winner for Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP, later winning the Frank Selke Trophy in 2013 for best defensive forward along with the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2015.
Toews finished with 372 goals and 511 assists in 1,067 career regular season games while scoring 45 goals with 74 assists in 137 contests.