CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks placed center Jonathan Toews on injured reserve Friday, retroactive to Nov. 24, and activated defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from injured reserve.
The Blackhawks captain and top center has an undetermined timeline to return from the upper-body injury that will sideline him for a fifth straight game when Chicago plays at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-PH, WGN, NHL.TV).
Toews hasn’t been ruled out for the game against the Winnipeg Jets at United Center on Sunday, but the Blackhawks won’t rush him back.
“You’ve got to be fully recovered and make sure guys are 100 percent before they can play,” coach Joel Quenneville said Friday. “Jonny plays at a certain pace and it’s all out, so let’s make sure he’s more than ready when he’s coming back.”
The injury is related to his back, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Toews has four goals and eight assists in 21 games. He last played in the second period of a 2-1 loss at the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 23, when he left after a shift and didn’t return. Toews began skating on his own Thursday, taking the ice prior to the morning skate for the game against the New Jersey Devils. Toews again skated on his own before practice Friday and stuck around for the first 10 minutes of a 20-minute team workout.
He said he’d be playing if this were the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I guess at this point, that’s the frustrating part is that [I’m] feeling pretty close to being able to play,” he said. “[It’s] the type of thing that I think most guys would be able to suck up and just go out there and play if it were a playoff game and you’re putting everything on the line. But at this point, with the amount of the games left in the season, it’s not something to continuously deal with if you’re going to aggravate it and it’s going to keep coming back to haunt you.”
Toews took an awkward fall at the start of his final shift against the Sharks but said the injury doesn’t stem from just that play.
“I think it was just something that [I] started to aggravate in the first period and I tried playing in the second,” Toews said. “In that instance, right there, I kind of went down hard like a ton of bricks just not trying to aggravate the injury more than I already had. That wasn’t exactly the instance where I got hurt. It was kind of the one instance people were looking for what the explanation was.”
The Blackhawks are 3-0-1 in the four games Toews has missed. The past three have gone beyond regulation, with Chicago winning in overtime against the Devils on Thursday and in a shootout against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday after losing in overtime at the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 26.
“It’s nice to see the boys playing the way wholesale jerseys they are and pulling out the tight games right now,” Toews said. “[I’ll] just come back and check in [Saturday] and see how it is, and hopefully … re-evaluate for Sunday.”
Putting Toews on injured reserve gave Chicago the roster space to activate van Riemsdyk to play against the Flyers. He has missed 20 games since Oct. 21, when he sustained an upper-body injury crashing into a goal post in the third period at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“That’s something that happens in this game,” said van Riemsdyk, who’s played two games. “There’s some bumps and bruises along the way, so it’s just something you have to deal with. You can’t get too down about it.”