If you've read along with the first four keys of the offseason, you've seen my thoughts on the complicated history of the team, the head coach search, the development of young players, and the new roles the veteran leaders find themselves in. Today's fifth and final key focuses on the Captain himself, Jonathan Toews. What does the future hold in store for him and the Blackhawks?
Prepare to Say Goodbye to Jonathan Toews
This is easily the most difficult “key” the Blackhawks may have to face. That is the reality of going into its first season since 2007 without their Captain, Jonathan Toews on the roster. Toews has been one of the best Blackhawks in their history. He has been one of the two faces of the team for a decade and a half. He has won the love and respect of the team, the organization, and the city. It would be a challenging move to make, but it might make sense for both parties involved.
This season, Toews has seen a significant drop in production. In 65 games, Toews has 11 goals and 21 assists, for a total of 32 points. The next lowest season for him was the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season when he scored 48 points albeit in only 47 games. He is still playing 17:30 minutes a game, which is significant, though he has his worst +/- of his career by far with -17. The next worst was the 2019-2020 season when he ended with -2.
I’m not laying all this out to say Toews isn’t worth keeping around. He is quite obviously still a great player. If you compare his 2022 stats with those of others I’ve mentioned in this article, you can tell a marked difference. The question is, is a declining Toews worth keeping during a rebuild? Or would the Hawks most benefit from acquiring what they can for him and clearing that crippling cap space?
That is why I said this key for the Hawks is to “Prepare” to Say Goodbye. The possibility must at least be considered. And along with that consideration, what ramifications that may have for the team. Who is the new captain? Is it just Kane? How can you determine that?
But the move may be necessary for Toews too. Captain Serious has made comments lately suggesting his unfamiliarity with a rebuilding team. He has alluded to not knowing how to lead anymore and wondering if this Hawks team is really the best place for him. A player of Toews’ experience and age, probably would love to get a few more shots at another Stanley Cup before hanging up the skates. Maybe Toews can find that success on another team.
Lastly, for Toews this is a complicated point in his career. He just missed the entire 2020-2021 season with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. He rested up and was able to battle back quite successfully for the team. He’s just not the same as we was before. But maybe after one season back and adjusting will be all he needs to return to form. Maybe next season is the season we finally see the old Toews return. The question is, will that be for the Hawks or another team?
There is so much for the Blackhawks to do to be competitive again. I never even mentioned what they should do with their high draft pick this summer or what they should do at goalie in the future or what the organization should do to get back in good graces. I never even mentioned the departure of Pat Foley and the arrival of Chris Vosters. It really has been a season of monumental change. The organization and the team quite literally will never be the same again. The Stanley Cup dynasty days of yesteryear are far in the rearview mirror at this point. But these five keys is where the Chicago Blackhawks need to start if they hope to have a successful offseason.