DETROIT It pained Jonathan Toews to say it, that much was evident: his status hasnt changed, he wont play in the regular-season finale against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, and its all been very frustrating.
Toews is still feeling some concussion-like symptoms when hes doing his on-ice workouts, so he will be out tomorrow afternoon. And while his recovery has been a slow and aggravating process, Toews hopes that these next few days go well and hell be ready for the postseason.
But as with everything involving this injury, setting a true return date is difficult.
Im still keeping confident that things will go the right way, that Ill be ready for next week, said Toews, who sounded somewhat discouraged after practice. I felt like I was very close to playing yesterday or tomorrow, but we have four days or so before the net game. Hopefully thatll be the difference right there.
Tomorrow will mark the 22nd game Toews will miss with the concussion; he hasnt played since the Feb. 19 game against St. Louis. Toews reiterated today that he likely suffered and played with the concussion during the last few games on that long February road trip.
Playing a handful of games with it definitely didnt help, but it wasnt serious enough at the time to say, I think this is what it is. I should stop playing.'"
Toews knew what it felt like to suffer a concussion, since he had a previous one in October of 2010. Toews missed six games with that one, caused by a Willie Mitchell hit that had Toews staggering off the ice. The captain figured his recovery would be much like that one. Unfortunately, it hasnt been.
I had a concussion two years ago and after two weeks, boom, I was myself again, Toews said. Thats why this is so frustrating. Its not a clear-cut thing. I expected to be back in two weeks. I thought that was going to be it. Thats what happened last time, why isnt this the same thing?
As discouraged as Toews sounded, coach Joel Quenneville sounded more optimistic. Quenneville points to the progress that Toews has made over these past few weeks, and said an extra few days preparation could help the captain.
Part of the process is, some days you feel good, some days you dont feel quite as good, he said. Emotionally you want to be out there. Knowing how competitive Johnny is, its tough watching. But he feels much improved over the last few days, and each day over the last couple of weeks. It wouldve been nice to get him into one of these games. But Game 1 in the playoffs is much more meaningful. With five more days, lets side with caution.
Hopefully for Toews, thats all it is: erring on the side of caution. As much as everyone wants him back, as much as he wants to be back, his health comes first. And until hes 100 percent on the ice, hell keep working toward it.
Its not fun to miss all these games, especially when I want to step back in and feel fresh for the playoffs, he said. But I dont have a choice.