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Jonathan Toews Shares Skepticism About Rebuild After Hagel Trade

Toews did not hold back in an interview with Mark Lazerus of The Athletic on Friday.

Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Photo: NHLBlackhawks/Twitter

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews does not seem to be fully understanding the concept of a rebuild. During an interview with Mark Lazerus of The Athletic on Friday, Toews voiced his displeasure on the team trading away Brandon Hagel, a 23-year-old up-and-comer on a bargain of a contract.

“Yeah, if [Hagel] is the guy to get traded, if he’s not a guy that’s a part of a rebuild, then I don’t know,” Toews said to Lazerus. “I don’t know if anyone feels safe at this point, with the way he’s been playing and what he’s meant to our team. I had a hard time thinking in my mind that he would be one of the guys to get shipped off, considering what he brought in. Yeah, that was a tough one to see. I’m pretty shocked, for sure.”

Toews and the Rebuild

Just a few years ago, Toews openly expressed his frustration after former GM Stan Bowman announced the club would be heading into a rebuild, followed by an open letter to the fans on the process. Of course, Bowman wound up jumping ship on that idea less than a year in, which only put the Blackhawks in a deeper hole moving forward.

Now, Toews seems to be just as displeased with the current direction of the franchise. Although, with the Blackhawks having gone without a (real) playoff victory since 2016, what is new GM Kyle Davidson supposed to do? Let the same group go at it again next year and expect different results? That’s insane. Why should anyone be safe after this nightmare of a season?

Sure, Hagel could have been a piece to rebuild around, but the opportunity to net two first round picks and two other players was simply too good for Davidson to pass up. The Blackhawks NEED to be focused on acquiring as many future draft picks and prospects as possible. That’s what you are supposed to do when in the rebuilding process.

When asked by Lazerus about his thoughts on leading a new era of Blackhawks hockey, Toews provided yet another intriguing response.

“It’s a good question, honestly. I don’t know if I can answer that right now…. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement there. Of course, you invest a ton of energy and emotion and care with your teammates because you’re all working toward that common goal. Now, all of a sudden, you realize no one on our team is safe and we could all be going in different directions in the near future — it’s pretty discouraging. I’ll leave it at that for now.”

– Jonathan Toews

Disappointment

Want to know what else is pretty discouraging? Seeing this Blackhawks team that was supposed to be competitive at the bottom of the standings once again. Toews is seemingly forgetting that the expectations were not even close to being met this year. As tough as change may be (for both fans and players), that is the only way to go about rebuilding this roster.

Lazerus also poked at Toews about whether or not he would consider waiving his no-movement clause, which is in effect until his contract expires in the summer of 2023.

“My main goal is just getting back on top of my game, and my health and my performance. It’s just been a process this last year of taking baby steps in the right direction… So that has to be my primary focus, to get back to a place where I feel like I’m in control of my own destiny, then maybe we’ll start evaluating what the future looks like. So, we’ll see.”

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