Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews returns after missing two months for treatment of long COVID

Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders during the third period at United Center on November 01, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Longtime Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews returned from two-month medical leave of absence and played on Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.

Toews, 34, took the opening faceoff for Chicago as he appeared in a game for the first time since Jan. 28 at Edmonton. He made a statement through the team on Feb. 19 saying he would be stepping away because of the effects of Chronic Immune Response Syndrome and "long COVID."


After training on his own, Toews returned to the ice with teammates in a practice session on Tuesday. In a meeting with reporters after the skate, he hinted his stellar NHL career could be winding down after 15 years and stopped short of saying he planned to play in any of last-place Chicago remaining games.

Toews' eight-year, $84 million contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

After practice Friday, coach Luke Richardson said Toews was feeling stronger and might try to play Saturday against the fast-skating Devils, contending for first-place in the Metropolitan Division.
After Saturday morning's skate, Toews confirmed he planned to play against New Jersey.

Toews, the Blackhawks' first-round draft pick (third overall) in 2006, joined the team in 2007 and was a pillar of Stanley Cup championship clubs in 2010, 2013 and 2015. 

At the peak of his career, he was one of the NHL's top two-way centers, winning the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward in 2013.

In 1,060 regular-season games, Toews has 371 goals and 509 assists. In 139 playoff games, he's posted 45 goals and 74 assists, and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2010.

Toews missed the entire 2020-21 season with chronic immune response syndrome, which caused debilitating inflammation and fatigue. He appeared in 71 games in 2021-22.

Toews started this season with renewed energy before slowing and eventually shutting himself down. He has 14 goals and 14 assists in 46 games entering Saturday.