Jonathan Toews bids farewell to Chicago

Apr. 14—GRAND FORKS — Jonathan Toews scored one final goal as a Chicago Blackhawk on Thursday night.

The former UND center, who led the franchise to Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015, took one final lap around the United Center to a standing ovation.

Then, he walked back to the dressing room for the last time.

Toews' 16-year run as a Chicago Blackhawk, 15 of which he served as team captain, ended Thursday night with an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Earlier in the day, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson announced that Chicago would not re-sign the 34-year-old Toews, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

"It's more than a game out there when you're able to be a part of some special years where you win Stanley Cups and provide a lot of special feelings for the fans," Toews said. "It's a two-way street. We gave our heart and soul and poured everything into this team, this organization and this game for a lot of years. To reap the rewards like that, you can't draw it up any better."

Toews played two years at UND from 2005-07. He signed with the Blackhawks in the summer of 2007 and has spent his entire career with the organization.

Toews, the No. 3 overall pick in 2006, has played in 1,067 regular-season games, scoring 372 goals and 883 points.

He has won the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward (2013), the Mark Messier Leadership Award (2015) and the Conn Smythe as Stanley Cup Playoff MVP (2010).

In 2017, Toews was named one of the NHL's 100 greatest players of all-time by a panel of executives, media members and former NHL players.

Toews, who has battled health issues stemming from long-COVID, has not ruled out retirement.

"There's no timeline right now," Toews said after his final lap. "There's no doubt a moment like that is hard to top. I think it's something I'll let myself sink into with my family. The thought of playing for another team right now is so far in the back of my mind, especially after that moment. I always thought I'd retire a Blackhawks and part of me still believes in that, so we'll see."

If Toews does retire, he said he plans to remain involved in hockey in some way.

"I think I'll always be involved in the game one way or another," he said. "Whether I'm involved in the Blackhawks in the future, I have no clue. If I'm not playing hockey at this time next year, I think it's exciting to think of all the parts of life you've put on the back burner. I'm not getting any younger. There are a lot of things you have to sacrifice over the years to be able to reap the benefits to have success at this level. It will be nice to spend time with family and friends, too, and put other people first.

"When you're playing hockey, everyone's attention is on you and you're putting yourself first. You have to be selfish in a lot of ways. It will be nice just to let your guard down and see where life takes you a little bit."

Davidson told Toews of Chicago's plans to not re-sign him last week in Seattle.

Toews said he holds no ill will toward Davidson or Chicago for deciding to move on.

"It's hard to accept that sometimes life changes," Toews said. "But at the same time, it's exciting. I'm really excited to see where this team goes in the future. It will be fun to watch. I'll always be a Blackhawk the rest of my life."