Owner: No rushing Jonathan Toews

Updated: March 20, 2012, 6:30 PM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz weighed in on the delicate issue regarding when team captain Jonathan Toews should return to action after sustaining a concussion, saying the team will take no chances on rushing him back too soon.

Wirtz agreed that the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, who suffered from the effects of a head injury for more than a year, was scary and perhaps one to learn from.

"Absolutely, I don't want to rush [Toews] back and rightfully so," he said. "That would be stupid. You don't take a blue-chip player and throw him back in after something like that and then have him miss the playoffs because he came back too soon."

Toews has missed 13 straight games with the most optimistic projection having him return for the final few games of the season.

Wirtz said one positive to come out of the situation is that the Hawks have gone 8-4-1 without Toews.

"You have to learn to live without him," he said. "Three years ago, he was hurt in L.A. and we didn't do well without him, so you have to learn to play without your captain. One interview recently, I heard him say now that he's injured, he stays far away from the locker room. It doesn't mean he's not working out, but he's not giving the pregame pep talk because guys are thinking, 'You're telling me to do it and you can't do it.' "

Toews admitted he concealed his symptoms early on, potentially making the situation worse, but Wirtz said he understood.

"When is a headache [bad] sinuses or something you did?" Wirtz asked. "Obviously you're dizzy, and it's a good thing the sooner they can tell us. But our league does a good job with protocol [for head injuries]. I'm not sure other leagues are quite as stringent as hockey is.

"[Toews] is progressing as they're saying, but you just have to let the brain [heal]."

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.