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Chicago Blackhawks say they will not re-sign captain Jonathan Toews

3-time Stanley Cup winner was been struggling with the after-effects of COVID
Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews waits for a faceoff during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, on Thursday, April 6, 2023. ;Longtime Blackhawks captain Toews will not be returning to Chicago next season, the team announced on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Longtime Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will not be returning to Chicago next season, the team announced on Thursday.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he has informed Toews that the team will not re-sign the 34-year-old pending free agent in the off-season and Thursday’s home game against the Philadelphia Flyers will be his last with the team.

“Tonight will be his final game as a Blackhawk,” said Davidson. “It was very important to us to be able to provide the proper send off for Jonathan and our fans. He has done so much for his organization, and no matter where he plays next, we’re excited our fans get the chance to show Jonathan exactly how much he means to them.”

Toews is in the last season of an eight-year, $84-million contract with the Blackhawks. He has played his entire 15-season career in Chicago and led the franchise to three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

In 2010, Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the most valuable player in the playoffs as Chicago ended a 49-year Stanley Cup drought.

The 34-year-old centre also won a Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward in 2012-13 and a Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2014-15.

The Winnipeg native, who the Blackhawks selected third overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and named captain at just 20 years old, has compiled 371 goals and 511 assists in 1,066 regular season games.

This season, Toews has 14 goals and 16 assists in just 52 games this season. He has missed time due to the effects of long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome, including a two-month absence from Jan. 28 to April 1.

Toews also missed the entire 2020-21 season due to chronic immune response syndrome.

“I don’t really have an answer right now,” Toews said on Monday of his future. “I’m just trying to enjoy the last few days of the season here with this group and not thinking that far ahead.”

His departure comes in the wake of a February trade that shipped star forward Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers.

The Blackhawks have fallen on hard times in recent years, missing the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. Entering Thursday’s game, they are 30th in the league with 58 points.

— With files from The Associated Press