CHICAGO - When the Blackhawks' season ended last spring, we were all under the impression that Jonathan Toews had played his last game in a Chicago jersey.
On Thursday, the captain released a statement with more details about his hockey future.
Toews posted an update on Instagram. He said he's taking next season off so he can continue to battle through his health challenges. He also thanked the fans, Blackhawks' organization, and teammates for his illustrious 16-year journey.
"It's hard to find words to describe the 16-year journey that has made this city my home. Aside from the 3 Stanley Cups, the parades, and the countless memories made with my teammates, what is still most special to me was feeling a true connection to the people of this city. You are the best fans in the world, and I'm so thankful we shared so many special moments together."
Toews played his last game as a Blackhawk in the final game of the season on April 13. That morning, Hawks GM Kyle Davidson told the media Toews wouldn't be back with the Hawks after his 8-year, $84 million contract expired this summer.
The captain led the Hawks to three Stanley Cup titles, the 2010 Playoff MVP, and was named one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history.
Toews went on to say he is not retiring, just taking care of his health this season, so the 35-year-old will be able to sign as a free agent wherever he wishes if he chooses to come back.