UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Jonathan Toews returned to the lineup on Saturday, and according to the Blackhawks captain, there was never a doubt. In fact, if the Hawks hadn’t been up 3-0 at the time Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg sent Toews face-first into the boards in the second period, Toews thinks he probably would have kept playing Thursday night.
“I feel great,” he said. “Felt fine after the hit and in the third period there, but the training staff just held me back [as a] precaution.”
Toews was slow to get up after the hit, but never came off the ice, staying in for the ensuing 5-on-3 power play. He took a penalty on the power play, sat out his two minutes, skated to the bench and left the game for good. Much of the hockey world was surprised that Toews wasn’t removed right away, especially given his history of concussions.
Toews chalked that up to the staff on the bench not seeing the hit as well as the team doctors and athletic trainers who were watching the game on TV in the dressing room.
“That gave them a few seconds to realize that something might be wrong,” Toews said. “But I went in there, I passed all my tests that they run for a player that’s in a situation like that. Even in that situation, though everything went well and I felt fine, they still wanted to play it safe and hold me out, given the situation we were at in the game. I think we were up three goals at the time.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he wouldn’t have done anything different in retrospect. And he insisted the Hawks always err on the side of caution, regardless of a player’s concussion history.
“We always do, whether he’s got a history or not,” Quenneville said. “There’s a certain protocol you’ve got to go through. We followed it, and he’s ready to go.”
Toews agreed: “I felt fine. I got to the bench and we were already talking about what we were going to do on the 5-on-3. I had no problem with that. I don’t see any problem with the situation at all.”
Toews said with his history, he would have approached things different if he had any doubt that he was 100 percent after the hit.
“There was no doubt, even if the hit looked bad, that I was fine after and there was nothing to worry about,” Toews said. “I think for any player, whether you have a history or not, it’s something you have to take seriously, and it’s something the league has begun to take really seriously, obviously, with the great way our staff handled it the other night. It wasn’t fun to miss a period there, but I’m glad I won’t have to miss more than that because of the hit.”
Boston coach Claude Julien assigned much of the blame for the hit on Toews for not protecting himself better. Toews said he understood that Julien was trying to stand up for his player, but obviously he disagreed with his assessment.
“They were arguing that I turned,” he said. “I’m honestly, without bias, trying to think of a way I could have avoided that. I think my feet just got planted and there was nowhere for me to go but into the boards. I don’t think I was turning at all. It’s one of those things where you have to protect yourself, of course, but I don’t really see how I could have made it different in any other way.”