The Chicago Blackhawks have never been accused of failing to celebrate milestones in the resurgence of their franchise, and they continued that tradition on Wednesday afternoon by hosting a press conference to discuss the recent contract extensions for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
The deals, which will pay the duo $10.5 million apiece beginning in the 2015-16 season, are the richest in the NHL, and they ensure that by the time they expire, the players will have been together for 16 seasons in the Windy City.
“You can’t get star players,” team GM Stan Bowman said during the press conference, which also included team owner Rocky Wirtz and President John McDonough. “Most teams would die to have one of these guys on their team, and we’ve got two of them.”
Kane and Toews were two of the Blackhawks’ most productive players once again in the 2013-14 season, despite missing a combined 19 games due to injury at the end of the campaign. Kane had 69 points to finish in second place on the team in that category (finishing only behind Patrick Sharp’s 78), and Toews was right behind him with 68 points in 76 games. Both players likely would have eclipsed the 30-goal plateau had they remained healthy, but despite falling short of that milestone, both remain key components to the team’s success in the future.
Despite that production, some pundits and fans are concerned about what the eight-figure salary cap hit is going to do to the team’s depth in the future. The cap didn’t go up as much as expected for the coming 2014-15 campaign, and if the number falls short of the $75 million figure that has been bandied about, the team could be caught in a bit of a cap crunch.
Even with those concerns, both players clearly weighed that notion before agreeing to the lucrative deals.
“With the cap rising, we feel pretty comfortable about where our deals were at to still have good players around us,” Kane said.
Both players also were in a jovial mood as they celebrated their new deals, with Toews taking a dig at Kane after the players spent several years together as roommates on road trips.
“We were roommates on the road for five years,” Toews said to laughter. “It’s a good thing that changed, since we may not have been here today.”
Not content to let Toews be the only one making jokes, Kane poked a little bit of fun at himself when discussing how he’s matured over the past several seasons.
“Everyone kind of goes through their different maturation processes, and maybe mine was a little delayed compared to other guys,” he said with a smirk.
Both players will be participating in the annual Blackhawks Convention next week at the Chicago Hilton. The festivities kick off on Friday.