Joel Quenneville says Jonathan Toews ‘is not getting better’

Well that doesn’t sound encouraging.

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews is not progressing in his recovery from a back injury and will stay off the ice for the next few days, reports the Chicago Sun-Times’ Brian Sandolow. Coach Joel Quenneville provided the update Sunday while announcing that Toews would miss the team’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Toews suffered a back injury on Nov. 23 in a game against the San Jose Sharks and hasn’t played since. He returned to practice recently, but the hope was that he’d continue feeling better as time progressed. Instead, Quenneville said the injury — which Toews has never dealt with before — is not getting better.

“Well you certainly miss his presence in all aspects of your team game, his leadership as well, as good as anybody that’s played,” Quenneville said. “You use all those important minutes.”

Toews, 28, has recorded four goals and eight assists in 21 games with the Blackhawks this season. The team has gone 3-1-1 in his absence, but the depth chart is notably thinner without him. After demoting Nick Schmaltz to Rockford on Sunday, Chicago looks to go with Artem Anisimov, Vinnie Hinostroza, Marcus Kruger, and Andrew Desjardins up the middle against the Jets.

Back injuries can be difficult even if you’re not a professional athlete, so it’s understandable that Toews and the Blackhawks are being cautious. The captain said recently that he’d try playing through the injury if it was the playoffs, but given it’s still fairly early in the season, they’re trying to play it safe and get him closer to 100 percent. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a nagging thing for star center.