Where is Chicago Blackhawks' former legendary captain Jonathan Toews?

He was not in attendance last Sunday for Patrick Kane's return to the United Center.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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The stars came out this past Sunday to see the Chicago Blackhawks retire Chris Chelios' No. 7 and Patrick Kane's return to the United Center after being traded last year.

You had Wayne Gretzky, Eddie Vedder, and Dennis Rodman in attendance. Cindy Crawford scored a goal in the second intermission's Shoot the Puck.

Kane's former teammates Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa were also in the house.

Missing among those legends was Jonathan Toews. The man Kane will always be tied to in Blackhawks lore for turning the Hawks' fortunes around in the late 2000s and winning the three Stanley Cups during the 2010s.

Kane was the flair of the group, but Toews ran the business. He was Captain Serious. He was the guy willing to do everything on the ice to make the Hawks successful. You would think he would have been there to see Kane's Chicago return even if Patrick was wearing a Red Wings sweater.

It is not like he had a game to play as Toews announced this past summer he was stepping away from the NHL to focus on his health.

Since he made that announcement, Toews has sort of faded away from the public eye.

He had an emotional night the last time he was at the United Center. The Hawks had previously announced they were not going to re-sign Toews in the offseason, so the final game of the season would be his last with the team. He scored a goal in the finale and received a rousing ovation after the final horn blew.

Toews' health had fallen on hard times. His game was not going to age well with how physical he played. He battled long COVID-19 symptoms towards the end of his Hawks tenure.

Stepping away was probably for the best. Since then, he has not been in the public eye much.

It has led some to question why he was not there on Sunday. Well, the man has his reasons, and it should be respected.

He did tell the Athletic's Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter Scott Powers he would be watching the game at home (subscription required)

Toews also provided comments to NHL.com's Tracey Myers about Kane's return to the United Center.

He did recently tape a message for North Dakota University hockey, the school where he played.

As Hockeywriters.com Brook LoFurno points out, Toews does look healthy and relaxed in the video.

Maybe Toews will get a glorious ovation from the Hawks faithful while wearing another team's sweater if he decides to return to the ice next season.

Selfishly, the hope is Toews stays retired. One, that would cement him playing only for the Blackhawks as part of his legendary storied career. Two, the bumps and bruises he took along with the long COVID-19 zapped him of what made him a special player. Maybe a year away will rejuvenate him, but again, his game was not aging well. Well, at least to the standards we always had for him.

At the same time, Toews has earned the right to do what he wants with his career. If he feels he has recovered enough with a year off to contribute to an NHL team, then he should pursue a comeback.

Honestly, him not being on there on Sunday is not a big deal. He probably would have been lost in the star-studded crowd especially after Patrick Kane scored that game-winning goal.

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