CHICAGO – When Stan Bowman sent a letter to fans on the team’s social media channels talking about the franchise’s desire to field a younger team, changes were inevitable, with a number of new players making their way into the organization.
That figured to produce a training camp where some familiar names wouldn’t be there, like goaltender Corey Crawford. Yet the core players from the start of the dynasty era in the late 2000s figured to remain as the core of a new era of Blackhawks’ hockey.
Yet there’s one player who is not on the ice at the moment for the team that is literally at the center of the organization: Captain Jonathan Toews. An undisclosed illness has kept him out for the start of training camp and the foreseeable future, since there is not a timetable for a return.
That’s something that’s rarely happened for the franchise since Toews made his debut with the team in the 2007-2008 season. He’s been incredibly consistent, appearing in at least 70 games in ten of his 12 full regular seasons (Toews played in 47 in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season), and was the foundation for three Stanley Cup titles.
Patrick Kane has been with the Blackhawks with Toews every step of the way since 2007, making this training camp as unusual as any. So not having the captain there is especially difficult for the forward as he starts his 14th season with the team.
“He’s obviously in the back of our minds and we’re thinking about him,” said Kane of Toews. “It doesn’t really feel like a team without Johnny as a captain. We definitely miss him, but he has to take care of his first.”
As he does, head coach Jeremy Colliton said that he along with general manager/president of hockey operations Stan Bowman remain in contact with Toews as he deals with the illness. He’s still the captain of the team in his absence and the team isn’t thinking about a date for his return.
For Colliton, health is a priority.
“We’re supporting him however we can. That’s the No. 1 priority,” said Colliton. “As far as when he’s coming back and all those things, it doesn’t really matter. We’re gonna be of assistance as much as we can. He knows that we’re supporting him.
“When he comes back is not the top priority.”