CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Blackhawks opening training camp without Jonathan Toews doesn’t feel right, but that’s what happened on Monday. They took the ice at Fifth Third Arena minus their captain.
Toews is out indefinitely. He announced last week in a statement that he’s dealing with a health issue. He’s been feeling “drained and lethargic.” No more details were provided by Toews and none have been provided by the Blackhawks other than to say that Toews’ health is their first priority.
Monday Patrick Kane admitted he’s spoken to Toews but Kane wasn’t about to divulge any information to the media during a Zoom Conference.
“I’ve talked to him. I don’t know how much I really want to dive into those converstations to just respect his privacy. I guess I’ll probably just say that hopefully we have him back soon, and if not I think all of us kind of told him to make sure he’s okay before that happens. He’s obviously in the back of our minds, and we’re thinking about him. It doesn’t really feel like a team without Johnny our captain.”
Head coach Jeremy Colliton also was reluctant to discuss Toews’ status. “We’re supporting him however we can. That’s the number one priority and as far as when he’s coming back and all those things that doesn’t really matter. We’re going to be of assistance as much as we can.”
The Blackhawks are also without Kirby Dach (fractured wrist) and Alex Nylander (recovering from knee surgery). Also new forward Carl Soderberg hasn’t arrived yet due to immigration issues and Brent Seabrook, Pius Suter and Evan Barratt were ruled ‘unfit to participate.’
All of the absences clear the way for an already young roster of players to have even more opportunties to show what they can do.
“We have a pretty young team here, and there’s a lot of opportunity here going forward so it’s an exciting time,” said Kane. “It’s exciting for me personally just to kind of be myself. I’ve always enjoyed being around the young guys.”
Among the youngsters in camp are 14 players who suited up for the Rockford IceHogs last season. They include Philipp Kurashev, Matthew Highmore, Brandon Hagel, John Quenneville, Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen.
Expectations for the Blackhawks around the league are low going into this season based on the team’s decline in recent years and the fact that Corey Crawford is no longer on the team leaving the goaltending position a major question mark. And now there are the injuries on top of all that.
“You’re aware of how we’re perceived,” said Colliton of the low expectations from outside the organization. “Whether that’s through the media or fans or across the league, and we’ve got something to prove. It’s a challenge for us as a coaching staff, but also the players that we have. We’ve got to be relentless in how we’re going to work to get better.”
The Blackhawks will open their season next Wednesday, January 13th in Tampa against the Lightning.