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Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews was blindsided by NHL season being paused due to COVID-19

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The Chicago captain said the team expected to play without fans before a shutdown.

Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Jonathan Toews didn’t expect the NHL to pause its season March 12 due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The Blackhawks captain said he was blindsided by the decision during an interview Thursday on the “Dropping the Gloves” podcast with former teammate John Scott.

“With this pandemic and this whole situation is day-to-day and it’s kind of crazy,” Toews said in his first public interview since March 10 when he talked with reporters at Fifth Third Arena, the Blackhawks practice facility. “Sometimes I kind of pinch myself a little bit. It’s only been a week and a bit that we’ve gone on lockdown and the game just stopped.”

Toews had two assists in Chicago’s 6-2 win against the Sharks on March 11 at the United Center then the next morning Blackhawks vice president of team services Tony Ommen sent a text message and an email informing players practice was canceled, according to Toews. At 12:35 p.m. the NHL officially paused the season.

“It was kind of a blindside because we thought the next step would be games without fans and then we just kind of go from there. It kind of just got super serious real quick.”

Toews said he’s talked with teammates through their group text message chat about updates from the NHL Players’ Association, but didn’t say what those were. He also explained most Blackhawks players have gone home while he has stayed in Chicago putting together his condo in the Lincoln Park neighborhood that he moved into around Christmas.

Toews, who’s 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) in 70 games are second on the team to Patrick Kane’s 84 (33 goals, 51 assists), has also used the time off to recover and rest.

“Honestly, I’ve just been laying around and recovering, doing some reading, making some phone calls, catching up with friends,” Toews said. “I haven’t had the chance to go home to Canada yet. I’m not even sure if it’s too late for that, but I’m just kind of enjoying being at home. I’m just kind of settling in and doing tons of little things that have been on the back burner for quite a while, so that’s about it.”

The Blackhawks have 12 games remaining on the their schedule and are six points back of the Predators and Canucks for the second wild card from the Western Conference into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the season does not resume the Blackhawks will miss the playoffs for a third straight season for the first time since 2005-08.

Even with Blackhawks players scattered across the globe and the future unclear, Toews said they’ll be ready if the season does resume.

“It’s one of those situations we don’t know what’s going to happen and I guess guys will just hangout at home,” he said. “If we get the call, we’ll come rushing back after that.”