Updates from Wednesday, July 16
Tracy Myers of Comcast SportsNet provides Toews' thoughts on his captain status:
Toews spoke about re-joining Kane, via Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times:
After weeks of speculation and concern, the Chicago Blackhawks successfully locked up captain Jonathan Toews to the tune of an eight-year contract, the team confirmed on Wednesday, as Toews signed with his teammate Patrick Kane:
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported the yearly salary for both Toews and Kane:
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN also reported on the bonuses in the contracts:
Toews spoke about the new contract in a press release from the Blackhawks (via Nina Falcone of CSN Chicago):
“I could not be more grateful for the amazing moments and opportunities I've been given by the Chicago Blackhawks," Toews said per a team press release. "There's no organization in sports that cares more about the overall experience of their fans and the success of their players. To have the chance to continue with this amazing group of teammates and people throughout the organization is an incredible honor. There's nothing we want more as players than to continue to win Stanley Cups for the best hockey fans on the planet.”
Teammate Patrick Sharp also commented on the deals:
Sean Gentille of Sporting News weighed in on the deals for Toews and Kane:
Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune and Mike Kelly of NHL Network also spoke on how these deals will impact the Blackhawks in the short and long-term future:
The elite center would have become an unrestricted free agent during the 2015 offseason had the Blackhawks failed to sign him, but Chicago found a way to maintain the heart and soul of the team.
With three All-Star nods, two Olympic gold medals, two Stanley Cups, a Selke Trophy and a Conn Smythe Trophy to his credit, Toews is one of hockey's most decorated stars. He would have commanded huge money on the open market; however, the Blackhawks satisfied their fans by securing the 26-year-old forward.
Signing Toews was always a priority for the Blackhawks, but fans grew worried when TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that Toews and Patrick Kane were looking for matching contracts that would have paid them $12 million per year:
Despite the big numbers that were thrown around, general manager Stan Bowman never seemed concerned. Getting a deal done couldn't have been easy, but Bowman claimed that the Blackhawks should be thankful for having the opportunity to extend players like Toews and Kane, per Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com.
We're not looking at the number or whether it's above or below a certain point. We're just looking to continue to have two of the best players in the world on our team. I think that's the one thing you can't lose sight of. ... I look at it as an incredible thing. We got these two great players who are going to be in Chicago. Regardless of what the (salary) number is, there's 29 other teams that would be happy to be in our spot where they've got two star players. They've accomplished a lot already, and they're in their mid-20s. It's a great position. We're fortunate more than anything to have both of them on our team.
Bowman also made it clear that the team would find a way to keep both Toews and Kane in the fold by hook or by crook, according to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune:
Since both Toews and Kane are represented by agent Pat Brisson, it is only natural that they were mentioned in lockstep throughout the process. Brisson was vocal on behalf of both his clients and even shot down a rumor regarding deals possibly getting done on July 8, per David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period:
As it turns out, though, the Blackhawks were ultimately able to get the job done. There is no denying the fact that Chicago had to extend Toews. He has 23 goals in each of his seven NHL seasons, he is averaging nearly a point per game over the past four campaigns, he is arguably the best defensive forward in hockey and he is a fantastic leader.
All of that comes at a price, though, and it could reverberate throughout the rest of the roster. After winning their first Stanley Cup with the current core back in 2010, the Blackhawks had to clean house to some degree by getting rid of key supporting players such as Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg among others.
That house cleaning hurt Chicago initially, but it was able to adapt and thrive with stars like Toews, Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Based on how much money the Hawks had to spend on Toews another purge could be forthcoming.
The Blackhawks weren't quite good enough to win a second consecutive Stanley Cup this past season as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings in seven games in the Western Conference Final. Teams around Chicago are getting better, so it's possible that the Blackhawks' current window of opportunity will only be open for one more season.
Even so, Toews is a vital player who had to remain in Chicago. The NHL is largely about big-time stars making plays on the big stage. Toews is one of the NHL's top stars, so Chicago will have a chance to be really good for as long as he is in the picture.
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