CHICAGO – For the first time in his 16 years with the Blackhawks, the captain was taking the ice without one of his closest teammates
Patrick Kane was still on the squad when Jonathan Toews last played for the team back in late January before he had to leave the lineup due to long COVID and Chronic Immune Response Syndrome.
When he returned on Tuesday for morning skate ahead of the Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to the Stars, Kane has already played a few weeks for the New York Rangers after he was traded there on February 28.
So what has it been like to see Toews no longer with the team?
“I was definitely shocked. The possibility was there for a while but, god, it’s not actually going to happen. You just can’t see a guy like him in another jersey,” said Toews when asked about his reaction to the Kane trade. “I heard he was flying home from San Jose to kinda wait things out until the trade was actually going through, I think it might have been Tuesday night or something.
“Then I realized ‘OK, this is for real.’ Then you see him in a New York Rangers jersey.”
Kane has donned that for 13 games since the trade, scoring five goals with four assists as the Rangers are gearing up for a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. New York is trying to reach the level where the Blackhawks were in the 2010s when he along with Toews helped the team to three Stanley Cup titles.
Toews says the pair have texted back and forth since the trade but haven’t spoken on the phone just yet as he adjusts to having his closest teammate on another team for the first time.
But it’s not all sadness for the captain.
“I kinda looks good on him to be honest with you. I hate to say that,” said Toews of Kane donning the Rangers’ sweater. “Just happy to see him enjoy himself and play with some really good players and here he gets reunited with a guy like ‘Breadman’ (Artemi Panarin). I think Kaner is such a competitor that it’s going to feel good for him to go out there and play some meaningful games in the playoffs and play on the big stage.”
Even if it means breaking up a duo that made plenty of memories in Chicago.