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Toews not retiring, but 'taking time away' for upcoming season

Len Redkoles / National Hockey League / Getty

Unrestricted free agent Jonathan Toews provided an update Thursday on his future.

The longtime Chicago Blackhawks captain announced he isn't calling it quits but will step away from the sport for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

"I'd like to announce that I am not fully retiring, but I am taking time away from the game again this season," Toews posted on Instagram. "I cannot deny my love for the game of hockey and still feel the passion for competing at my highest level."

Toews cited his health as the primary reason he's taking a break.

"However, these last few seasons have been very difficult considering my health challenges," he said. "My focus is to give myself the time and space to fully heal and enjoy life to the fullest once again. Along the way, I have met several people who have struggled with health issues pertaining to long COVID, chronic immune response syndrome, and other similar cases that are quite complex. I now recognize the importance of one day sharing the details of my health journey with you all."

Toews missed the 2020-21 campaign while dealing with chronic immune response syndrome and symptoms of long COVID. The same symptoms forced him to sit out two months in 2022-23.

Toews detailed his illness in March, saying it got to the point that he didn't want to "roll out of bed to come to the rink."

The 35-year-old hit the open market this summer upon the expiration of the eight-year, $84-million contract he signed with the Blackhawks in 2014. The organization announced in April that it wouldn't re-sign Toews with the team rebuilding.

Toews received an emotional farewell during his final home game at the United Center to close out the regular season.

He also posted a thank-you letter to the city of Chicago and Blackhawks fans Thursday, prompting the hockey world to wonder what's next in his career.

Toews posted 31 points in 53 games last season while averaging nearly 18 minutes per contest. The future Hall of Famer will likely generate plenty of interest from potential suitors if and when he decides to return to the ice, as he's one of the most decorated players of his generation. He captained Chicago to three championships and won the Conn Smythe in 2010 an the Selke Trophy in 2013. He was named one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history during the 2017-18 campaign.

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