Bowman downplays rumors, says everything remains status quo with Toews

The rumor mill surrounding Jonathan Toews has been swirling for weeks.

Amateur doctors everywhere have myriad theories as to what is ailing the Blackhawks' captain.

It's unfair, irresponsible and not right.

Look, everyone is hoping Toews will be OK and that whatever he is going through is not a serious long-term issue. You don't have to be a hockey fan to understand that.

You just have to be human.

There's some scary speculation as to what Toews is suffering from, but thankfully, Blackhawks general manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman said it's all not true.

Everything remains status quo - Toews is still dealing with an undisclosed illness and wants to return to the Hawks when healthy.

"He seems to be trying to get himself back to where he can rejoin the team, but as far as when that would happen, he doesn't even know," said Bowman, who is in touch with Toews but is also not hounding his superstar on a daily basis. "It's not like we have information that we're not sharing. It's a situation where it's just the great unknown when he'll be feeling ready to play hockey again. ...

"I've found over the years when players are not with the team, the best thing to do is to give them their space; not to be bothering them regularly like, 'How are you feeling?' Just knowing Jonathan the way I do, when he's ready to come back, he'll be back."

On December 29, less than a week before training camp started, the Hawks released a statement stating that Toews was experiencing symptoms that left him "feeling drained and lethargic." Toews thanked the fans, Bowman, Rocky Wirtz, Jeremy Colliton and his teammates, and also asked for privacy as he focused "on my health and recovery."

Toews had been experiencing these symptoms for quite some time, possibly as far back as when the Hawks were taking part in the Stanley Cup playoffs in Edmonton last August.

"As far as when it exactly started, I don't know," Bowman said. "When the time is right, I'm sure he'll share the timeline of things.

"It wasn't a sudden thing where he woke up one day and wasn't feeling right. It was kind of one of those gradual things (where) you can't pinpoint the actual day it began."

Bowman understands the fans' concerns and that it's human nature to speculate - especially when someone is dealing with an unknown illness.

"When a guy blocks a shot or has a knee-on-knee collision or falls on their shoulder and then they're out, not only do you know what's wrong but you saw the play happen," Bowman said. "Everyone has an easier time with that.

"When it's something like this - where it's not one thing you can point to - it just leads to people wondering. 'Gee, what is it? What happened?'

"I get it. I totally get it."

How is Seabrook doing?

In addition to the Jonathan Toews mystery, everyone wants to know what is going on with Brent Seabrook. The last time we saw the veteran defenseman was last July as the Hawks were preparing to take on Edmonton in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Seabrook did not travel to the Edmonton bubble, but he did speak to us for nearly 20 minutes about how excited he was about the 2020-21 campaign.

"I still think that I'm one of the best defensemen in this locker room," he said. "If given the chance and the opportunities that some guys get then I think I would definitely be able to live up to those expectations and exceed them. ...

"I'm looking forward to camp next year."

Unfortunately for Seabrook, he tweaked his back the first time he went on the ice in early January. He's remained on injured reserve and has only been back on the ice a couple of times since.

Stan Bowman saw Seabrook on Thursday but wasn't sure if he was going to attempt to skate.

"I don't know if you've ever had back problems, but I have. It just comes on out of nowhere," Bowman said. "He's been dealing with that ever since. I think he's improving, but it's not like he's ready to jump into practice tomorrow.

"He had been really ready to go and he was feeling great. Now he's taken a step backward. ... Once he does get back to skating then he's gonna have to catch up and build himself up."

If Seabrook returns, he'll attempt to crack a blue line that includes Duncan Keith, Connor Murphy, Calvin de Haan, Nikita Zadorov, Ian Mitchell, Lucas Carlsson, Nicolas Beaudin and Adam Boqvist (once Boqvist is out of COVID-19 protocol).

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