Jonathan Toews planning to ‘soak in memories’ during last two Blackhawks home games

With the Hawks set to host the Wild on Monday and Flyers on Thursday, Toews is “taking it as if these are my last games in Chicago.” He’s preparing himself emotionally for what that might feel like.

SHARE Jonathan Toews planning to ‘soak in memories’ during last two Blackhawks home games
Jonathan Toews looks on.

Jonathan Toews will likely play his last two Blackhawks home games this week.

AP Photos

Jonathan Toews will treat the Blackhawks’ last two home games as his Chicago farewell tour.

To deem it his farewell tour, period, might be going too far. He thinks it’s still possible he will return to play somewhere next season, if only because he hasn’t reached the point of deciding whether to retire. But he thoroughly thinks this week marks the end of his tenure with the Hawks.

‘‘For myself, I’m taking it as if these are my last games in Chicago,’’ a reflective Toews said quietly in the corner of the visitors’ locker room Saturday in Seattle.

His use of past tense was telling.

‘‘I really worked hard and put a lot in to try to get back into the lineup before the end of the season, so I could have the opportunity to do this and really soak it in for myself,’’ he said. ‘‘I owe so much to the fans and the people in the city that made it so special to be a Blackhawk for all these years. I owe a lot to the organization; they’ve given me everything.

‘‘Sitting where I am right now, it’s hard to predict what the emotions will be like. But there’s no doubt that it’s starting to sink in, for sure.’’

The Hawks will host the Wild on Monday and the Flyers on Thursday — with a road game Tuesday against the Penguins in the middle — to wrap up their season.

For long-term benefit, it would behoove the Hawks to lose all three games. In that case, if the Blue Jackets earn even one point in their final three games, the Hawks would finish last in the league and guarantee themselves a top-three draft pick.

Hawks fans are — understandably — not exactly clamoring to get a final glimpse of this 25-48-6 team. As of Sunday, resale tickets on Stubhub for the two home games started at $22 and $26, respectively.

But Toews provides a very different — and far more compelling — storyline. In fact, it’s somewhat difficult to imagine the Hawks losing Thursday against an awful Flyers team in the captain’s emotional Chicago finale. That just wouldn’t feel right.

‘‘I’m just going to go out there, play hard and try to . . . get the fans out of their seats a couple of more times,’’ he said.

Toews hasn’t done anything remarkable in his four games since rejoining the Hawks’ lineup, but he also hasn’t looked out of place — which is an impressive accomplishment in itself, considering his health circumstances in the last few months.

He has averaged 15 minutes, 35 seconds of ice time in those games, taking a passive role offensively — recording only two shots on goal — but winning 59.6% of his faceoffs.

His purpose for playing on this last road trip was to enjoy some free time with teammates and, potentially, to experience the rhythms of an NHL season one last time. The purpose of playing this week, however, will be to feel the energy of Hawks fans one final time — and to acknowledge them in return, even though he’s not sure how he’ll go about doing that.

In between shifts, Toews already has begun taking time to gaze around at the arenas, at the fans, at the whole scene for which he has had a front-row seat for 15 years. But he expects to spend even more time doing so during the last two games at the United Center.

‘‘There will definitely be some moments where [I’ll] be taking some mental images, trying to soak in those memories,’’ he said.

And how will he put aside that nostalgia and emotion each time he hops over the boards and finds himself in the thick of the action again?

‘‘It’ll be fine,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ll find a way.’’

The Latest
A day later, Grifol repeats: ''I thought we were flat.’'
United Airlines flight 2901 to Seattle had an engine catch fire about 2 p.m. Monday. No injuries were reported.
Counsell left the Brewers as the all-time winningest manager in club history. In Milwaukee, his legacy comes down to culture, performance — and his admiration for his home and state.
Among the dead are 5-year-old Reign Ware, who was fatally shot in the abdomen while sitting in a parked car in the 200 block of South Campbell Avenue about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, police said.
The Cubs squandered lefty Justin Steele’s best start of the season.