For the first time since serving his one-game suspension for missing the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, Jonathan Toews spoke to the media after Wednesday's practice.
The Chicago Blackhawks captain played the first two periods of a 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 26 in the Hawks' first-half finale. Toews told reporters he experienced body aches, a bad cough and had trouble breathing on the ice during a two-week period. The 27-year-old then pulled himself from the All-Star Game two days later.
For Toews, it wasn't easy missing the All-Star Game festivities.
"It's not an easy thing (to miss the All-Star Game)," Toews said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "You want to be there, you want to represent your team and be there for the 'Hawks fans that are behind you ... but it just got to the point where things were not getting better."
Joel Quenneville could have sat Toews against Carolina, but instead he played 40 minutes. Toews served his suspension against the Central Division foe Colorado, which the Hawks beat 2-1 on Tuesday. There are definitely some mixed opinions regarding the NHL's rules, which require any All-Star who misses the event to be suspended for one game, but Chicago weathered Toews' absence.
Now the captain is rested and ready to return to the ice, which could ultimately be a win for the team. Toews got over a week off to recover and prepare for the remainder of the season. Considering that he's likely hoping to play into June, those extra few days of rest were surely welcomed.
Toews skated on the top line with Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa and is expected to play Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. He has 19 goals and 16 assists in 53 games.