After several days of no news, it has finally come out that Jonathan Toews will miss the rest of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks. According to Joel Quenneville, Toews will be completely healthy by playoff time and will play in Game 1 of the first round, which will likely pit Chicago against the Colorado Avalanche.
It would appear that the Blackhawks are simply choosing the safest possible road. Toews is still considered day-to-day, and it seems reasonable to speculate that his injury isn’t the direct reason his regular season is over; rather, the organization has decided to play it safe and save the captain for the postseason. In other words, many have their doubts that this is truly an injury that would keep Toews out of the lineup for two weeks under a different set of circumstances.
With a playoff spot clinched and home-ice not being an especially important commodity in the NHL playoffs, Chicago has little to lose by essentially resting No. 19 for the remainder of the season. The team had looked fatigued on the ice for the last several months, going through the motions of the grinding 82-game campaign. Frankly, the Blackhawks don’t need to win many more games at all; the six games still left of the regular season would serve only as six more opportunities for Toews (or Patrick Kane, who would be playing through his MCL sprain if this were the postseason) to get hurt.
Thus, the impact of Toews’ injury and the subsequent declaration that he will miss the rest of the regular season could turn out to be much more positive than negative. Perhaps the absence of Chicago’s two biggest stars from the lineup — as opposed to just Kane alone — will help shake the team out of its funk, which is almost certainly attributable in part to a lack of focus.
There may be nothing quite like losing Toews and Kane that can jerk a team back to reality.