Toews’ coronavirus comments cause a stir
The Blackhawks have gone to great lengths, including a moratorium on interviews throughout the spring, to stay out of the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic.
But with daily practices — and daily interviews — resuming Monday, captain Jonathan Toews didn’t take long to make several controversial comments about the pandemic.
Asked about the NHL’s Return to Play plan, which will create a so-called bubble around players in the hub cities, Toews said he’s excited that hockey will be a “frontrunner” in the return of sports.
“You’re going to find all sorts of different attitudes as far as the bubble,” he said. “Part of me just says being away from people and isolating ourselves isn’t really the answer.”
Toews expanded on his thoughts a few minutes later.
“Does anybody really know how and when people catch this thing?” he asked rhetorically. “The best you can do is get good rest, eat healthy, take care of your body, do the little things that lower your chances. What else can you do?
“Sitting around and worrying about it is just going to drive you crazy. The NHL’s gone to great lengths to create a safe environment. It’s far from perfect, but everyone has their own beliefs in seeing where they stand with all this.”
Toews’ comments caused a stir on Twitter, with many fans pointing out studies indicating scientists actually have determined how COVID-19 is transmitted, and that socialdistancing has proved effective in slowing that transmission.
It’s not Toews’ first outspoken moment since the season stopped. He posted an emotional statement on Instagram on June 1, shortly after George Floyd’s death, calling for “white people to open our eyes and our hearts.”
Defenseman Brent Seabrook’s bearded face was somehow a familiar as well as a surprising sight at Fifth Third Arena.
After 15 seasons with the Hawks, Seabrook has endured thousands and thousands of practices. But not since Dec. 18 had Seabrook, coming off three surgeries, skated with the rest of the team.
“It’s not going to be easy, but the fact that he’s here and he can provide his experience and his presence to the group, it’s a huge benefit for us,” coach Jeremy Colliton said.
“I know Brent is fully aware of his body and what he wants to do,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “To be joining the group in the middle of summer, without a proper lead-up to the training camp, just shows the kind of character and commitment he has. We all take note of that, and it inspires all of us.”
Mitchell agreement imminent
Top prospect Ian Mitchell unofficially signed his entry-level contract with the Hawks in April, but that contract hasn’t been officially filed yet because its start date remains to be determined.
The Hawks could burn one of Mitchell’s three entry-level years on 2019-20, letting him practice with the team, but he’d be ineligible for the playoffs because he signed after the season stopped in March. Or they could have his contract start with the 2020-21 season.
General manager Stan Bowman said he’s close to an agreement with Mitchell’s agent about which path to take.
Oilers down 2 defensemen
Oilers defenseman Mike Green was one of a handful of players to opt out of the restart. The 34-year-old veteran, who played only two games for the Oilers after a deadline trade from Detroit and before the season pause, cited “deeply personal family health reasons.”
The Oilers also missed young defenseman Caleb Jones at their first practice. Jones, like Corey Crawford, received the “unfit for play” designation.