Hours after issuing a heartfelt statement thanking Chicago Blackhawks fans and everyone else involved in his legendary Chicago Blackhawks career, Jonathan Toews provided more clarity on where his career stands in an additional update on Instagram.
Toews announced that while he is not "fully retiring," he will not play this upcoming season in an effort to focus on his health.
"I’d like to announce that I am not fully retiring, but I am taking time away from the game again this season. I cannot deny my love for the game of hockey and still feel the passion for competing at my highest level.
However, these last few seasons have been very difficult considering my health challenges. My focus is to give myself the time and space to fully heal and enjoy life to the fullest once again. Along the way I have met several people who have struggled with health issues pertaining to long COVID, chronic immune response syndrome, and other similar cases that are quite complex. I now recognize the importance of one day sharing the details of my health journey with you all.
Thank you to all of you who have supported me and respected my privacy in the process."
After missing all of the 2020-21 NHL season dealing with chronic immune response system, Toews returned to play two more seasons with the Blackhawks.
In 53 games in his final season with the Hawks, Toews totaled 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points.
Back in April, general manager Kyle Davidson announced that the Blackhawks would not re-sign Toews once his contract expired at the end of the season. The three-time Stanley Cup champion played his final game for the organization on April 13.
Four months later, after a massive, celebratory sendoff at the United Center, Toews posted a lengthy, deeply heartfelt message on social media expressing his gratitude.
"It’s hard to find words to describe the 16-year journey that has made this city my home," he wrote.
"Aside from the 3 Stanley Cups, the parades, and the countless memories made with my teammates, what is still most special to me was feeling a true connection to the people of this city."
Toews, 35, went on to thank fans, his former teammates and the Blackhawks organization for an "unforgettable" 15-year career in Chicago.
"To Blackhawks fans, it was surreal to witness and be a part of the revival of hockey in Chicago," he wrote. "There was nothing like the roar of the Madhouse when we scored a big goal to tie it or win it late in a game. As players, we tried to reciprocate that heart and soul energy we felt from you. I honestly believe it’s what made us so tough to beat in the later games of a playoff series.
"To my Blackhawks teammates, I consider you all lifelong friends and brothers. We share a bond that’s hard to break. Whether you reach the mountain top or not, we can all agree it’s grinding through the tough moments together that we’ll really miss."
Toews' future in the league is in a flux, and it's possible the six-time NHL All-Star will decide to sit out this upcoming season or retire for good.