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posted: 7/10/2014 5:30 AM

Who's more valuable to Blackhawks? Toews or Kane?

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  • Patrick Kane celebrates with Jonathan Toews after a goal in the playoffs this spring.

    Patrick Kane celebrates with Jonathan Toews after a goal in the playoffs this spring.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Again Blackhawks management made it look easy.

The time had come for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to receive contract extensions, and in timely fashion the completed deals were announced Wednesday.

The development answers so many Hawks questions for the next decade, but not the one I have had for the past few decades: Who was the more valuable Hawks player back in the 1960s and '70s, Stan Mikita or Bobby Hull?

In Toews and Kane the Hawks have two players whose careers eventually will be compared to those of Mikita and Hull.

In both cases one is a center and the other a winger. The current duo is headed toward the Hall of Fame just as Mikita and Hull were.

Over the years I have asked hockey experts whether Mikita or Hull was more valuable. Mostly the answer was a quizzical look, as in why would you even care about that?

Mikita was one of the best players ever to play the game. Hull was one of the best players to ever play the game.

Why not just leave it at that? Why not accept each for the way he played? Why not just be thankful that they played for the Hawks as long as they did?

Well, not all minds work that economically. So I have wondered for the past 50 years, first as a fan and then as a sports writer, whether Stan Mikita or Bobby Hull in their primes was more of a priority for the Hawks.

For the past half-dozen years or so I wondered similarly about Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Knowing their contracts would have to be extended sooner than later, the assumption was that a clue was forthcoming. Either Toews or Kane would receive more money in his deal and that would settle the issue.

But then the two buddies who came into the NHL together decided to bond at the table and negotiate their contracts together. Then they agreed to the same terms: a reported $84 million over eight years.

That must mean that Toews and Kane are equally valuable to the Hawks, right?

No, it can't mean that. No two players -- except maybe the Sedin twins in Vancouver -- are worth the same amount of money even if they're paid the same amount.

Either Toews is worth more or Kane is worth more, and which one is worth more remains a mystery … at least to me it is.

My tendency must be that Toews must be worth more because I almost always type "Toews and Kane" when writing about them.

Toews is the better all-around player. He plays offense and defense. He does all the big things and all the little things that win games. He's a leader as team captain.

Kane is a great offensive player, improving on defense and uncanny at controlling the puck, a shift and a game like few others in hockey.

Overall, hockey experts likely would take Jonathan Toews first. But a certain level of value has to be added to Patrick Kane for the way he can excite and entertain with his Globetrotters style.

The scouting reports sound a lot like Stan Mikita, the tremendous multidimensional hockey player, and Bobby Hull, the most electric athlete in any sport in Chicago the past half-century.

Toews and Mikita: more subtle. Kane and Hull: more spectacular.

If Toews is more valuable, then Mikita was. If Kane is more valuable, then Hull was.

OK, so maybe no more discussion is necessary and each of the four players is great in his own right and we can leave it at that.

Still, I wonder whether it should be Mikita and Hull or Hull and Mikita and Toews and Kane or Kane and Toews?

For me anyway, the answers aren't as easy as the Hawks make most others out to be.

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