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Toews out Saturday, hopes for Game 1 return

by Brian Hedger /

DETROIT -- The hope was to get Jonathan Toews back for at least one game before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that's not going to happen for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago's top center and captain is still experiencing symptoms from a concussion and will miss his 22nd straight game Saturday afternoon in Detroit (1 p.m., NBC, TSN2) when the regular season concludes.

"It would've been nice to get him in a game, but Game 1 of the playoffs is way more meaningful than [this] game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after practice Friday at Joe Louis Arena. "We have five full days here [before the playoffs start]. Let's side with caution."

Quenneville, however, sounded a little more optimistic about Toews being ready for postseason play than the 24-year old star and 2010 Conn Smythe winner did. Toews spoke about his ongoing recovery at length Friday and here is what he had to say:

Q: Can you just give us an update about your status for playing [Saturday]?

TOEWS: "Um, the status hasn't changed unfortunately. I'm still progressing, I guess. It's frustrating to have another game go by, but I don't feel comfortable that [Saturday] is the right day to get back into it. It's not fun to miss all those games, especially knowing it's going to be tough to step back in and feel fresh and ready for the playoffs. I guess I don't have a choice at this point. I have to make sure I'm ready to go when the time's right."

Q: Are you confident that you might be ready to play by the time the playoffs start?

TOEWS: "I have confidence and a positive outlook that things are going to go the right way and I'll be ready for next week. I feel like I was very close to being ready to play [Thursday in Minnesota] or [Saturday], but now we've got four days or so before our next game, whenever that might be. I'm hoping that's going to be the difference right there."

Q: What kind of symptoms are the main things holding you back at this point?

TOEWS: "It's just the same things ... not feeling like yourself and not being able to do what you do with ease. It's all sorts of things. You try and explain it and no one understands what you go through, so it's not a fun thing right now."

Q: Are you concerned that it will be about the same three or four days from now?

TOEWS: "What am I supposed to say? I'm doing everything I can on my part to make sure I'm recovering as fast as I possibly can. The rest is pretty much out of my control as far as I know. I'm doing everything I can, so there's not much I'm leaving on the table."

Q: Is it mainly stuff on the ice or off the ice that's the biggest problem?

TOEWS: "It's everything daily. If I compare myself just walking around, going through my daily routines now as opposed to two, three or four weeks ago, I'm not feeling anything. There's nothing that ever seems to show up. It's just all those things I do on the ice that seem to cause that feeling to come back."

Q: Would it be any different if you guys needed a playoff spot [on Saturday], needed to win, or would you just be out anyway?

TOEWS: "I mean ... I don't think so. The guys have been playing desperate hockey the whole time. Whether we've been playing for a playoff spot or home ice, there's been motivation every single game that I haven't been around for, so it [stinks] either way. If we were going to miss the playoffs, obviously it would hurt even more -- but at this point the guys have played great even without certain players. You see [Duncan Keith was out] for a few games and the guys stepped up and filled a void there and it's been the same way without me at center. The guys have played great hockey, but either way it's been tough to watch. So, I don't think it changes anything."

Q: So, when you're on the ice it affects you, but just sitting here right now you feel fine. Is that the case?

TOEWS: "Yeah, it calms down pretty good after practice, but the good news is that it seems like the harder I push myself in practice the more progress I make. So, I'll keep doing that."

Q: How concerned are you that your first game back [could] be in the most intense game of the year in the playoffs?

TOEWS: "I know what I'm getting myself into. I completely understand that ... [Dave Bolland] did it last year with style and, you know, hopefully it works out the same way. I know it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough either way. I guess I'll just have to remind myself not to do too much whenever that game might be and just go out there and try to chip in. The guys have been playing great and all I'm looking to do is just add to that a little bit."

Q: Have some of the guys you know who've gone through this before told you that this is just what to expect toward the end of it ... that you just have to wait until you feel like yourself?

TOEWS: "I mean, I didn't expect any of this. I had a concussion two years ago and after two weeks at home I felt like myself and popped right back in. It was a tough first skate just getting the legs back and that was it. It was history. I didn't look back at all.

That's why I think it's so frustrating. It's not a clear-cut thing. I expected it to be two weeks. I thought that was going to be it, like, 'Hey, this is what happened last time. Why is it not the same thing?' If you ask me ... if you look at the main thing that caused both injuries, the first time around I stumbled off the ice and I couldn't even stand up and I wonder why it took not even half the time to recover from it.

I think a lot of those things kind of add in to make it a little more frustrating, but it is what it is. Like I said three times already, I'm doing what I can to get back in. I don't think anyone doubts that either, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing."

Q: Have you thought about what caused this one? Was it a defining blow that you remember?

TOEWS: "Yeah, it was ... I obviously remember the moment, but ... I played a handful of games with it, [and that] definitely didn't help. So, I mean, it's one of those things that wasn't serious enough at the time to say, you know, 'I think that's what it is. I should stop playing.' I just tried to wait it out and see if it went away and it never did. So, here we are."

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