Entering his 15th season with the Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews does not sound interested in being a part of the team’s long-term rebuild.
“At the end of the day, we’re talking about a five-plus-year process, according to (general manager) Kyle [Davidson],” Toews told The Athletic on Tuesday. “So, that part of it doesn’t sound appealing to me at all.”
Toews, who has been captain of the Blackhawks since 2008, helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups from 2010-2015. The team, however, has reached the playoffs just once since 2017 and hasn’t won a playoff round since their Stanley Cup championship in 2015.
Davidson, who was named general manager in March after taking over on an interim basis in October, has been clear on his plan to enter a rebuild has already made several trades to move the process forward.
Davidson dealt forward Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning in February and made major splashes at the draft earlier this month, dealing winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators and center Kirby Dash to the Montreal Canadiens. The flurry of moves helped see the Blackhawks end up with three first-round selections in this year’s draft and ownership of the Lightning’s first-round pick (top-10 protected) in each of the next two seasons.
Toews: ‘I really don’t know’
Trading some of the team’s most promising young players doesn’t sit well with Toews, who along with Patrick Kane is entering the final year of his current contract.
“I can’t speak for ‘Kaner,’ but I definitely feel that the amount of turnover our team has gone through every single year these last three or four years, that’s where it gets really, really draining. And exhausting,” Toews said . “You have a guy like Alex DeBrincat who was under Kaner’s wing. And I like to think that Kirby and I had that bond in some ways too. And out they go, out the door. Over and over, we’ve seen that turnover.
“I’m learning to be more patient, but there’s no doubt that timeline is pretty daunting, and pretty exhausting to think about. So, I’m not going to sit here and say what I’m going to do or what the future holds for me, because I really don’t know.”
Toews and Kane are both signed at identical $10.5 million cap hits as they enter the final season of the eight-year deals they signed in 2014.
The 34-year-old Toews posted 12 goals and 37 points in 71 games last season after missing the entire previous year due to chronic immune response syndrome.
Kane, 33, had 26 goals and 92 points in 78 games last season, averaging more than a point per game for the fourth straight season.
Davidson said earlier this month he would like to see Kane and Toews stay with the Blackhawks but noted he would ask both players for their input as well.
“Yeah, I think there’s value in having guys like that that can help mold and set the bar and set the example for younger players coming in,” Davidson said at the draft after trading DeBrincat. “But that’s a two-way street and they have to want to be a part of that. But you know what, to this point we haven’t heard otherwise. Again, we’re going to be very open with them, very transparent .
“Today was a day that I’m not sure any people saw coming, necessarily. Maybe they did. But it’s hard to accept nevertheless, which I get. But it’s a necessary step that we had to take to get this on a track to where we want to be and not try and just make small tweaks along the way. We had to make a big shift. We had to change things.”