Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss the start of training camp due to an illness, and there is no timetable for his return. The 32-year-old Toews said Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, he has been experiencing symptoms that have left him feeling “drained and lethargic.” (AP Photo/David Banks, File)
- The Chicago Blackhawks’ odds to win the Stanley Cup rose to +6500 after Kirby Dach broke his wrist and Jonathan Toews said he will miss the start of the season because of illness
- Dach may not be back until May, and doctors haven’t yet determined what is causing Toews’ fatigue
- See the opening 2021 Stanley Cup odds, plus our analysis on how to bet on Chicago this season
When Chicago Blackhawks prize youngster Kirby Dach fractured his wrist in an exhibition game at the World Junior Championships, hope for the Blackhawks started to dissipate. But when it was announced that captain Jonathan Toews will also miss the start of the NHL season because of an unknown medical issue, hopes began to bottom out.
The Blackhawks’ average odds to win the Stanley Cup were +5967 on Oct. 15. After the news about Dach and Toews, their odds are at +6500.
GM Stan Bowman’s Blackhawks were never going to be considered serious Stanley Cup contenders, but their hope of being a team on the rise also seemed to be dashed by the loss of two key players. Toews is the team captain and was coming off a strong playoff performance, while Dach was expected to play an expanded role this season.
Bottom 10 Stanley Cup Odds
|San Jose Sharks||+5500|
|New Jersey Devils||+7000|
|Los Angeles Kings||+8500|
|Detroit Red Wings||+35000|
Odds as of Dec. 31 at DraftKings
Toews Looking for Answers About Illness
The Blackhawks are worried about Toews because doctors aren’t sure what is wrong with him. Toews reported that he had been feeling “drained and lethargic”, and medical personnel haven’t been able to pinpoint the source of his fatigue.
Toews isn’t coming to the Blackhawks’ training camp and admitted that he doesn’t know when he will be returning to Chicago’s lineup.
Toews, 32, has been Chicago’s No. 1 center throughout his career and has led them to three Stanley Cups. He’s considered one of the NHL’s most respected captains. His playing ability has remained at an elite level. He posted 60 points in 70 games last season and then had five goals and nine points in nine playoff games.
It will be impossible to replace all of the contributions Toews makes to the Blackhawks as a leader and player.
We need more NHL players to be open about prioritizing their physical well being. I imagine the temptation and pressure to “play through it” is high, so good for Toews for taking the time he needs. https://t.co/bLafcVd49A
— Hemal Jhaveri (@hemjhaveri) December 29, 2020
Dach’s Injury Comes With Controversy
The Blackhawks didn’t have to let Dach play in the World Junior Championships. The New York Rangers weren’t interested in No. 1 draft pick Alexis Lafreniere playing for Canada. Likewise, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nick Robertson decided it was in his best interest to report to the NHL training camp and not play for USA at the WJC.
But Dach wanted to represent his country, and the Blackhawks believed it would help his development. As a result, he will be out five to six months because the injury required surgery. Dach won’t be ready until May.
Video of Kirby Dach’s injury in Team Canada’s exhibition game vs. Russia. He went straight to locker room. Not great. #Blackhawks
(🎥: @JDylanBurke) pic.twitter.com/gIdlPY4CJu
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 24, 2020
Dach, 19, was penciled in to be Patrick Kane’s center on Chicago’s No. 2 line. Dach’s skating ability made him a good fit to play with Kane. Dach registered eight goals last season with 15 assists. The Blackhawks were probably projecting for 18-20 this season. Dach was the key to Chicago’s future. He was very important to what was going to happen this season.
Blackhawks Weighing Replacement Options
Bowman provided some good news this month with the announcement that the team signed veteran center Carl Soderberg. Last season, Soderberg netted 17 goals for the Coyotes. The season before, he scored 23 for the Avalanche.
With Toews and Dach gone, he will undoubtedly play a larger role than the Blackhawks had originally anticipated.
New Blackhawks signing Carl Soderberg says the Hawks had been interested in him for several years, but now things worked out.
“I’m pretty good on PK, good on PP, and I’m responsible, so I’m going to play wherever they want me to play.”
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 28, 2020
Likewise, Dylan Strome will have to play a more prominent role, perhaps playing with Kane, even though Strome can’t match Dach’s speed.
It doesn’t help that the Blackhawks also will be without young Alex Nylander. He was injured during the playoffs and will be sidelined four to six months.
Not the Season to Bet On the Blackhawks
Even before the Toews and Dach issues, the Blackhawks were a team trying to retool around veteran players. The team’s defense isn’t strong enough, and the Blackhawks can’t move out veterans Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook because of their contracts. Plus, the team’s goaltending is unproven
2021 NHL Divisional Odds Tracker
Toews and Dach are two of Chicago’s Top Five players. No NHL team has the depth to overcome that kind of loss. Bowman faces plenty of pressure this season as he attempts to patch together a squad with a chance to make the playoffs. That will not be an easy task.
Kevin Allen has covered most major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final. He covered the NHL for USA Today from 1986-2020, receiving the Lester Patrick Award in 2013 and was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 with the Elmer Ferguson Award.