CHICAGO — “Captain Serious” will take the United Center ice for the final time Thursday.
Longtime captain Jonathan Toews will play in his last game as a Chicago Blackhawk Thursday after a historic career.
“Tonight will be his final game as a Blackhawk, and it was very important to us to provide the proper send off to Jonathan and our fans,” said general manager Kyle Davidson in a statement on Thursday morning.
“He has done so much for our organization, and no matter where he plays next, we’re excited our fans get the chance to show Jonathan exactly how much he means to them.”
Following a series of conversations, Davidson said he told Toews of the decision while the team was in Seattle last week. The GM also said he had talked to CEO Danny Wirtz, the son of Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, about the move.
“Danny and Rocky spoke with Jonathan, not about this, just to kind of reminisce about what was lived and experienced and just to show that respect and share in the memories that were made together,” Davidson said. “So, when you’re moving on from someone like Jonathan Toews, they have to be involved. They have to be, given the status and stature of the player.”
Fans made their way to the United Center Thursday to witness the final curtain call for the Blackhawks longtime captain.
“I don’t really have an answer right now,” he said Monday. “I’m just trying to enjoy the last few days of the season here with this group and not thinking that far ahead.”
Chicago hosted Philadelphia in its season finale on Thursday night. Toews won his first championship when the Blackhawks beat the Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
“He’s definitely our team leader, and he’s been the leader here for a long time,” first-year coach Luke Richardson said. “It was always fun to watch him play. I was always a fan, but to have a chance to work with him this year was absolutely amazing.”
Toews’ impact is most apparent in the next generation of hockey players he inspired.
When Mason Fauser heard the rumors this game may be Toews’ last, he and his dad booked flights from Canada so they wouldn’t miss the moment. It’s the 14-year-old’s first trip to Chicago.
“He’s my hero forever so I thought I would come see him before he was retired,” Fauser said. “He’s the great leader, just how I always wanted to be how I try to be, three Stanley Cups that’s hard to do, that’s a dream.”
Toews was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2006. made his debut with the team in 2007, and has been at the NHL level for 16 seasons. He played in everyone one of those except for the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign when he was out with chronic immune response syndrome.
He’s played in 1,066 games before Thursday night, scoring 371 goals with 511 assists across 15 seasons on the ice as he was named to six NHL All-Star teams.
In 2017, Toews was named as one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history in conjunction with the league’s 100th anniversary.
Toews will play in his 53rd game of the season tonight against Philadelphia as he’s scored 14 goals with 16 assists in the previous 52. In the middle of the season, he was knocked out for nearly two months due to a bout with long COVID and a return of chronic immune response syndrome symptoms.
He is eligible for free agency after agreeing to an $84 million, eight-year contract extension in July 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.