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Are Jonathan Toews' Days With the Blackhawks Numbered?

The Blackhawks captain sat down with The Athletic's Mark Lazerus about his future, and it appears Chicago may see some more change coming.
Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks Future

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing in life that is consistent, it is that change is always taking place. Over the last year or so, that has certainly been the case for the Chicago Blackhawks. The team has traded away Brandon Hagel, Alex DeBrincat, and Kirby Dach. Longtime broadcasters Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk are also gone. The one last thing fans have to hold onto is that the duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are still here.

However, the Blackhawks captain sat down with The Athletic's Mark Lazerus to discuss his future in Chicago, and it appears the Blackhawks may see some more change coming.

Toews, Kane, and The Blackhawks' Direction

General manager Kyle Davidson has the Blackhawks in a full-fledged rebuild. The team certainly appears to be actively tanking to get themselves toward the top of what is deemed to be a loaded 2023 NHL Draft by losing as many games as possible during the 2022-23 season. Despite that though, Davidson has mentioned wanting to keep Toews and Kane in the fold to help guide the Hawks' young prospects as they progress through the system.

Whether that is true or just PR speak or he actually means that he wants the two to stay, it may not even matter. Questions have been floating around all offseason about what Toews and Kane were going to do. Both franchise pillars have full no-movement clauses and can reject any trade offer the Blackhawks put forth. Davidson has mentioned that the team would not ask them to waive their NMCs, but would listen if either asked to be traded. So essentially, the ball is both Toews and Kane's court for what their respective futures hold.

Kane, the player with significantly higher trade value, has remained fairly quiet throughout the whole process. Reports indicate that he will begin the season with the team, see how things progress, and go from there. Toews, however, has been far more vocal about his concerns with the team's direction. Frankly, he does not seem to be happy about the current state of affairs on west Madison St.

Jonathan Toews' Future Outlook

Jonathan Toews mentioned that Davidson, who has been very transparent about the team's plans, sees this rebuild as a five-year-plus process. In response, Toews stated, "So that part of it doesn't sound appealing to me at all."

The Blackhawks captain, now 34 years of age, has battled numerous injuries over the past several seasons, so the question has to be asked how many seasons he even has left in him. Does he want to spend those last few years on a bottom-five NHL team?

There has been a ton of turnover on the Blackhawks roster over the last several years. The team's last playoff appearance during a full 82-game schedule was when they were swept by the Nashville Predators in 2017. Toews and Kane are the only remaining players from that team. In the five years since, the roster has been something of a revolving door, with Toews and Kane serving as the doormen.

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Toews expressed his discomfort with the roster turnover to Lazerus. "You have a guy like Alex DeBrincat who was under Kaner's wing. And I like to think Kirby and I had that bond in some ways, too. And out the door they go."

Alex DeBrincat was traded to the Ottawa Senators last month. | Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Alex DeBrincat was traded to the Ottawa Senators last month. | Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Daunting Days Ahead

Right now, it is hard to piece together what the Blackhawks lineup will look like next season. Will Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane team up to form the only line with any name recognition on the team? We could see the two split up to spread the wealth like they often have in the past. Regardless, Toews and Kane will be seeing a plethora of new and inexperienced faces in the lineup. That has been the theme of the last few years. However, this year, there won't be the familiar complementary faces of Dach and DeBrincat.

That fact doesn't seem to sit well with the Blackhawks captain. "I'm learning to be more patient," Toews explained to Lazerus, "but there's no doubt that timeline is pretty daunting, and pretty exhausting to think about." Simply put, that just does not seem like a man who is interested in sticking around for 4-5 years of terrible hockey.

Toews proceeded to explain that he wouldn't say for sure what his future holds, because he really doesn't know. However, it may be hard for the person who has spent his full career here and won three championships to admit, but it seems like he is ready to move on. He may not want to, but the situation is beginning to dictate it.

The fact is, this is a tough situation for Toews. Chicago is his home and the Blackhawks are the only team he has ever known. The good times were great. It is rare to win three championships in six years. However, that is now a distant memory and the team is as far away from a championship as they have been since Toews was drafted.

Get Your Goodbyes Ready

Both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will be free agents at season's end. Should Kane want to leave, every contender in the league would likely be interested in acquiring him at the trade deadline. Toews' situation would be different with his dip in performance due to injuries over the past few seasons. However, if his production is up and the Blackhawks were willing to eat half his cap hit, a trade could be possible this season.

It appears possible that this could be both Toews and Kane's last season in Chicago. | Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It appears possible that this could be both Toews and Kane's last season in Chicago. | Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The two-time gold medalist went on to tell Lazerus "The fans and the organization should know that my heart and my loyalty is with them."

The fact is though that sometimes, no matter how you feel and where your loyalties lie, it's time to move on. Toews seems to be coming to reality with that notion. It will be a sad day for Toews, the organization, and all of Chicago when it comes. Toews leaving the Blackhawks would officially signal the end of the greatest era of hockey in Chicago.