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updated: 7/16/2014 9:33 PM

Must be great to be young faces of the Blackhawks

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  • Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, left, and Patrick Kane shake hands after talking at their news conference Wednesday at the United Center. The iconic pair recently agreed to identical eight-year contract extensions.

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, left, and Patrick Kane shake hands after talking at their news conference Wednesday at the United Center. The iconic pair recently agreed to identical eight-year contract extensions.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer


Oh how great it must be to be young and a Blackhawk right now.

OK, so that isn't quite original.

Pitcher Waite Hoyt generally is credited with expressing a similar sentiment in the 1920s.

"It's great to be young and a Yankee," Hoyt supposedly said.

The quote has endured through nearly a century, 27 world championships and the greatest dynasty in American team sports.

The Hawks should be so lucky, but at least they are off to an impressive start with Stanley Cup championships in 2010 and 2013.

That's the Blackhawks part. The young part applies essentially to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the featured attractions Wednesday at a United Center news conference.

The occasion was to address the signing of twin contract extensions: eight years and $84 million for each.

"I know," Toews said with humility and gratitude, "we'll be in a great place for a long time."

Toews is 26, Kane is 25, and they began their NHL careers together with the Hawks seven years ago.

It has been a remarkable seven years, too, especially by beleaguered Chicago sports standards.

The Hawks' brand has exploded -- winning on the ice, filling the United Center and being relevant throughout the metropolitan area again.

The hockey scene is so bright here now that if Toews and Kane wanted to pull a LeBron James, they could have looked into the future and into the camera and said of title possibilities, "Not one, not two, not three … "

OK, so that's not their style, though a few years ago a wilder and crazier Kane might have been tempted. "Everyone goes through his own maturing process, and maybe mine was a little delayed," he acknowledged.

Kane expressed gratitude to the Hawks' organization and to his teammates for demonstrating trust and faith in him through his personal growing pains.

That alone might summarize what's happening here: Management has faith in the players, players trust management, and fans both trust and have faith in both the players and management.

There's a harmony and synergy that rarely has been prevalent in sports teams around here.

A lot of the Super Bowl XX-champion Bears didn't have faith in chairman Mike McCaskey. The dynasty Bulls were pocked with tension. The World Series-winning White Sox plunged into that Kenny-Ozzie friction.

The Blackhawks don't seem to have any of that.

Instead there's a mutual respect from chairman Rocky Wirtz to president John McDonough to head coach Joel Quenneville to the assistant coaches to the stars to the complementary players to the support staff to the fans who will attend the club's convention this weekend.

The impression is that it's great for all of them to be young or middle-aged or old or whatever age … and a Blackhawk.

Where else do you see the two most prominent players on a team agree to negotiate equal contract terms instead of each demanding $1 more than the other?

"It's special," Kane said of their relationship. "I was fortunate to come in with (Toews). We could lean on each other, and that really helped us early in our careers."

To expand on the "young and a Yankee/Blackhawk" theme, Toews can be compared to Derek Jeter as a captain and leader.

Kane, meanwhile, could be anyone else you want to choose from the Yankees most recent successes, a Jorge Posada or Andy Pettitte or Bernie Williams or maybe most appropriately game-closer Mariano Rivera.

"Most teams would die to have one of these players on their team," Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "We have two."

A growing number of players around the NHL would die to play in Chicago these days, too.

Yes, it should be great to be young and a Blackhawk for the next decade or so as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane play out their contract extensions.

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