'I plan to play on Wednesday': Blackhawks' Toews says he's ready for season opener
All systems go.
That's the message from Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews as he attempts to launch a successful comeback after taking a year off due to health issues.
"I plan to play on Wednesday," Toews said, referring to the Hawks' regular-season opener at Colorado. "It's not my decision, but I don't think it's up in the air."
Toews, who scored twice during a 5-1 victory over Minnesota in the preseason finale at the United Center on Saturday, admitted to having serious doubts about being able to return as training camp approached.
"To be honest with you, a week or two away from camp I was a little worried, a little panicky," Toews said. "But I just stayed with that attitude of taking it one day at a time and don't look too closely at the big picture. I made some pretty good progress in how I'm feeling and how I'm playing out there.
"Just trying to be smart with the puck and just rely on my instincts, my experience and slowly everything else will come as long as I keep chipping away.
"So just having fun in the process. It's been challenging, but a lot of guys go through similar things."
Toews scored 18 goals and had 42 assists in 2019-20. He figures to start the season centering a line with Dominik Kubalik and Phillip Kurashev.
Asked if Toews will be in the lineup Wednesday, coach Jeremy Colliton said, "That's the plan."
If Toews plays at a high level for 70 or more games, it obviously bodes well for a team that some believe can make a playoff appearance next spring.
"He does a lot of different things that we were missing last year," Colliton said. "The faceoffs, the battles. He's so good down low in the offensive zone. There's not many guys that are better. It just adds a different dimension to our team.
"Obviously he's an excellent penalty killer. Plays net front on the power play. So there's lots of different things we can do.
"We've got to manage him and try to put him in a position to succeed; keep him fresh as much as we can. So we'll work at it."