Jonathan Toews aims to return Thursday at Wild
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com March 29, 2012 10:52PM
Marcus Kruger gets knocked into Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 1, 2012 8:27AM
Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews was grinning — almost mischievously — when he said it.
“I’m not sure if it’s official yet, but probably,” Toews said. “If it’s not [Thursday], it will be soon, though.”
Toews, who missed his 18th consecutive game Thursday against the St. Louis Blues, was talking about getting cleared for contact, which would be the next major step in his recovery from a concussion.
After that, there will be a range of tests to pass, but Toews’ return is starting to look imminent. He was the last player off the ice Thursday after the morning skate, taking the ice for the 10th consecutive day after a setback.
“The last time I was on the ice, I was feeling like I was close to being able to play, and I [had] more of a setback than anything,’’ Toews said. ‘‘So this time around, I feel like there’s nothing I can do really that’s going to make that happen. I’ve been pushing myself harder and harder every day, and I feel good. I feel confident. Any day now, I should be ready to go.”
Toews won’t play this weekend against the Nashville Predators or Minnesota Wild, but the Hawks’ matchup against the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center next Thursday looks like a real possibility. Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews will undergo contact in the next day or so.
“I always like to say, every day I’m getting more and more confident with where I’m at,” Toews said. “I guess today would be one of those days. I’m getting very, very close. ... I just have to get those legs going and try to get myself back to being as close to game shape as I can.”
The news wasn’t as good for defenseman Steve Montador. He’s out indefinitely after his concussion symptoms apparently returned after playing on the fourth line Tuesday in New Jersey.
Montador, who missed 22 consecutive games before playing against the Devils, took an inadvertent blow to the head from defenseman Mark Fayne in the third period. Montador was bent over when he ran into Fayne. He played only 4 minutes, 20 seconds.
The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Ray Emery for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which honors perseverance and dedication.
Emery was a finalist last season after overcoming hip surgery and a long rehabilitation to lead the Anaheim Ducks into the postseason. This season, he’s recognized for that and for going through his first tryout in years to make the Hawks and eventually playing an important role.
Few teams came calling for Emery despite his success with the Ducks. He signed a tryout offer with the Hawks, beating out Alexander Salak despite a shaky preseason and eventually earning a contract.
“I haven’t had to try out in 10 years or so, but I knew I’d get a chance to play somewhere,” said Emery, who’s 15-9-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. “Even last year when I came back with Anaheim, I started off in the minors and got lucky a bit and worked my way up. You can do that if you’re willing to be patient and work for it.”