The Chicago Blackhawks will not have a captain this season.
General manager Kyle Davidson made the announcement Tuesday. Jonathan Toews captained the team for almost 15 years, but he played his last game with the team in April.
"The only plan right now is to sort of just let it breathe for a year," Davidson said. "We came off such a successful tenure with Jonathan that, a little bit of it is just out of respect for Jonathan, to not fill that spot right away.
"And the other part is not to put that pressure on someone else when you're coming out of a period of such -- call it greatness, right? And you want the next person to be in a position to succeed. And there's no requirement to have a captain, and so we just felt that it was best to leave that, push that decision a little bit."
Davidson said Chicago will have a group of alternate captains. That group will be announced later in training camp, which begins this week.
The rebuilding Blackhawks are looking for progress after finishing last in the Central Division with a 26-49-7 record. Following the awful season, they won the NHL draft lottery and selected Connor Bedard with the No. 1 overall pick.
As far as the future of the team's captaincy, Davidson said the Blackhawks will "let the chips fall where they may."
"Over the next year, we'll see who emerges, see what the best option is and decide next year if it's appropriate to name someone," he said. "We'll take that as it comes."
All eyes are on Bedard as the Blackhawks head into training camp, but the play of Lukas Reichel also is worth watching. Reichel, who was selected by Chicago with the No. 17 pick in the 2020 draft, had seven goals and eight assists in 23 games last season.
The 21-year-old Reichel has played mostly left wing in the NHL, but Davidson said he will begin camp as a center.
"I'm sure there'll be some growth areas for him down the middle," Davidson said. "But we wouldn't try it out if we didn't think he'd be a success."
This is the first season for the Blackhawks without a captain since 2007-08.
Toews, currently an unrestricted free agent, had 31 points in 53 games last season with the Blackhawks. He announced in a social media post last month that while he's "not fully retiring" from the NHL, he will be "taking some time away from the game again this season."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.