Toews still waiting to clear final hurdle

DETROIT -- If you’re confused about the situation surrounding Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews you’re probably not alone. On the one hand he says he’s close to returning.

“I was very close to playing [Friday] or [Saturday], but now we have another four days or so,” Toews said on Friday.

But on the other hand he claims to still be feeling “symptoms” while he’s on the ice.

“It’s not feeling like yourself, not being able to do what you normally do with ease,” he said. “It’s all sorts of things. You try to explain it, and no one will understand unless you go through it. It’s not a fun thing right now.

“It calms down pretty good after practice. The good news is it seems the harder I push myself in practice the more progress I make, so I’m going to keep doing that.”

The bottom line is Toews is measuring himself in the smallest of ways -- and that’s a good thing. No longer does he have to worry about major headaches or functioning on a day-to-day level. He said again on Friday it’s been weeks since he’s had to worry about that.

Now it’s just about clearing the final hurdle. First he had to wait it out in order to work out off the ice, then came skating, then came going hard in practice and now he’s down to just the finishing touch.

“I’m doing everything I can … the rest is out of my control,” Toews said. “There is not much I’m leaving on the table.”

So he’s not going backwards, but progress is stalled. Even if he needs just a little more he’s not taking chances. We’re at the final waiting game and the playoff clock is ticking.

“It would have been nice to get him in a game, but Game 1 of the playoffs is way more meaningful than [Saturday’s] game,” Joel Quenneville said.

So here’s the next question, one Toews hasn’t addressed just yet: If he continues to feel like he does now, will he play in Game 1 next week?

The Hawks don’t want to have to face that until the time comes. He has four or five days to feel just right, otherwise a very tough decision has to be made. Remember, Toews passed the NHL concussion protocols. As far as the league is concerned he’s ready to play. Now, it’s just up to him.