Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews opened up about a previously unspecified health condition that forced him to miss the entire 2020 season and revealed the condition that had been ailing him.
“I think there’s just a lot of things that piled up where my body just fell apart,” Toews said in a video interview that he posted Wednesday to his verified Twitter account. “What they’re calling it is chronic immune response syndrome, where I just couldn’t quite recover and my immune system was just reacting to everything, any kind of stress, anything that I would do throughout the day, it was always that kind of stress response. So it just took some time. That was the really frustrating part, not knowing when or how I was going to get over the hump.”
Toews, 33, a captain of the Blackhawks and a three-time Stanley Cup champion, had announced in December that he was dealing with an unspecified medical issue that left him feeling “drained and lethargic.”
Then, in January, Chicago placed Toews on long-term injured reserve.
Since the announcement, Toews had not been seen at the team facility and hadn’t issued any public comments about his condition until Wednesday.
“I learned a lot about the stress I’ve put on my body over the years and I appreciate the support,” Toews continued. “A lot of people were worried and I definitely felt bad to a certain degree that people were that worried and thought it was really serious, but in the back of my mind, I knew my getting through it was just a matter of time.”
Toews also said he “wasn’t too vocal about the things I went through this year” and expressed his gratitude to the fans, Blackhawks organization and his teammates.
In the video announcement, there is footage of Toews walking into the Fifth Third Arena, the Blackhawks’ practice facility in Chicago. There is also footage of Toews skating and doing light training on the ice, taking shots on goal and handling the puck.
“It feels great,” Toews said. “It has been a long time. I probably haven’t taken this much time off the ice, probably ever, at least since I was a kid. So it has been nice to be back in Chicago and see some of the guys again and just slowly but surely settling into the life and into the routine again, so it’s a good feeling right now.”
In the video, Toews did not comment about a specific timeline about a potential return to game action.
With Toews absent, the Blackhawks missed the postseason in 2021 for the third time in the last four seasons, but stayed in contention after some younger players stepped up. The Blackhawks had an NHL-high 42 goals scored by rookies. They finished 24-25-7 on the season.