Jonathan Toews has revealed the mystery illness that kept him out of the entire 2021 NHL season.
The Chicago Blackhawks captain announced he has been fighting Chronic Immune Response Syndrome – and that he plans to return for next season.
“It feels great,” Toews told Blackhawks TV. “It’s been a long time. Honestly, I haven’t taken this much time off the ice, probably ever; since I was a kid, at least, so it’s definitely nice to be back in Chicago and see some of the guys again, and slowly but surely settle into the life and to the routine again, so it’s a good feeling right now.”
Toews’ condition is a multi-system, multi-symptom illness that can affect any organ in the body. Some symptoms include fatigue, body aches and headaches. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Toews was at an even greater risk.
“I appreciate all the support,” Toews said. “A lot of people were worried and definitely felt bad to a certain degree that people were that, where they thought it was really serious but in the back of my mind, I knew I could get through it. It was just a matter of time.”
The 33-year-old center is skating in Chicago, and posted a video of himself returning to the United Center.
The Blackhawks missed Toews last season, as they went 24-25-7 and finished sixth in the Central Division. But in the past, Toews has guided the franchise to immense success.
Toews, along with All-Star winger Patrick Kane, led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups in six seasons. During the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy – given to the MVP of the postseason. He has won a Frank J. Selke Trophy and Mark Messier Leadership Award in his illustrious career, too.
“I’m excited to get back to the United Center and play and just go out there and have fun and I think my best is going to come through, and I’m excited to get back in front of the fans,” Toews said.
Toews’ return comes as the Blackhawks are under fire after being accused of not taking action when a player on the 2010 Stanley Cup team informed the team of alleged sexual abuse by former video coach Brad Aldrich. The player filed a lawsuit in which he alleges Aldrich sexually assaulted him and a teammate.