Jonathan Toews made his first public appearance since last season on Tuesday, albeit not live or in person.
The Blackhawks posted a 24-second video Toews took of himself congratulating longtime teammate Patrick Kane on his 1,000th career NHL game, one of numerous videos recorded by various hockey greats congratulating Kane.
“You’ve hit a few milestones lately, but this is a big one,” Toews said in the video. “I hope you enjoy it with the boys [and] your family. I’m proud of you, buddy. It’s been a special ride to be a part of it since day one, since we were rookies.
“Wish I was there to celebrate with you. See you soon, man.”
Toews hasn’t played a game this season since taking a medical leave of absence in December, stating at the time he was experiencing symptoms leaving him “feeling drained and lethargic.” He hadn’t made an appearance since — not even at the Hawks’ home opener in January, for which numerous other injured players were present.
Despite swarms of rumors about Toews’ possible conditions, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said in February that the team does not have any “additional information that we’re holding back.”
Kane was also asked and spoke about Toews before the game Tuesday, saying they’ve spoken with each other “quite a bit” this season.
“He’s always been one of the first ones to congratulate me or check in on a team, whatever it might be throughout the year,” Kane said. “We wish he was here, no doubt. He’s a great player, great leader. Just a big presence to have around for the team and in the locker room.
“Sometimes things are a little bit more important than hockey, and you have to be feeling right. We just reiterate that we wish him the best and hopefully he’ll be back soon. But let him take care of himself first.”