Multiple members of the Chicago Blackhawks spoke to the media once again on Wednesday following the club's final morning skate at the United Center this season. Based on their comments from the past few days, star forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat appear to be onboard for the current rebuild that's set in place with Kyle Davidson as the new general manager. But, captain Jonathan Toews went in a different direction on Wednesday when asked about wanting to remain with the Blackhawks past next season.
"I'm not going to comment on after next season because I have no idea. If anything, these last few years have taught me to stay in the moment and not look too far ahead... I'm going to enjoy this offseason and love every part of the process of getting ready for next year."
- Jonathan Toews on what the future holds
Of course, Toews returned to the Blackhawks this season after missing all of last year due to Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. The 33-year-old forward has tallied just 35 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 69 games, largely in part to a putrid first few months back on the ice. While Toews has shown flashes of his old self in the second half of the season, questions remain about his ability to become a dominant two-way player once again.
What Kind of Player Will Toews Be?
With Toews still under contract for one more year -- and the Blackhawks likely not too focused on contending in 2022-23 -- perhaps Davidson will elect to use next season as a trial run for 'Captain Serious'. After all, it's hard to accurately gauge Toews' game knowing that he entered training camp at far less than 100 percent.
"Lets face it, if you don't come into a season in shape, ready to go at your peak, the game's just getting younger and faster and our schedule is crazy. So it's just really hard to get ahead of the game when you come in way behind the 8-ball."
- Jonathan Toews on his conditioning entering the season
With his first full offseason ahead since returning to the ice, there certainly is a chance that Toews will be more consistent on the offensive end next year. In fact, since returning from concussion protocol on Mar. 3, Toews has tallied 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in his past 26 games. That's still a fairly small sample size, but provides evidence that Toews has started to pick it up down the stretch.
Is the Captain Committed?
Still, Toews' inability to commit himself to the organization multiple times leaves thousands of fans wondering what comes next. Will Toews still be with the Blackhawks next season? Will Toews waive his full no-movement clause to leave Chicago? Can a chat with Davidson convince him to stick around through the rebuild?
Despite not pledging to be part of the rebuild yet again on Wednesday, Toews did share some positive words on the outlook of the team moving forward.
"I think if a lot of different guys are given the right environment and right opportunity and keep taking steps forward, I think things can turn around pretty fast."
- Jonathan Toews
For now, there remain far more questions than answers regarding the future of the three-time Stanley Cup champion. But, with the Blackhawks' disastrous season coming to a close on Friday, the clock will start ticking for both Toews and Davidson to reach a decision.