The breakup of Blackhawks icons Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews is inevitable. That doesn't mean it will hurt less

Sometime in the next month Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson will likely make the gut-wrenching decision to trade Jonathan Toews and/or Patrick Kane.

Make no mistake: It's going to sting for tens of thousands of die-hard fans. But it might sting most for those who were teenagers when the Hawks were hoisting Stanley Cups in 2010, '13 and '15.

After all, aren't most of us cheering the hardest for our heroes in our youth? You were living and dying with every goal, save, power play, comeback and blown lead.

And this goes double during playoff time.

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I experienced plenty of adolescent heartache growing up.

The 1984 Cubs ripped my heart out, as did the Bears for every season except one, and the Hawks disappointed year after year after year.

But, man, were we kids of the 1980s lucky to grow up in the era of Michael Jordan.

The memories are so thick I can still envision where I was for every iconic moment.

And that includes October 5, 1993.

In the middle of studying at Northern Illinois University's Founders Memorial Library, one of my buddies took off the headphones to his Walkman and exclaimed: "MJ's retiring!"

I immediately laughed. "Yeah, right!"

But it was no joke.

Once we knew it was real there was no going back to studying. It felt like your best friend betraying you for no good reason.

Many will experience the same feelings of loss if one or both of the all-time great Blackhawks are dealt.

It's a bit different for those who grew up with MJ as we had to deal with years of crushing postseason defeats before the Bulls finally climbed to the top of the NBA mountain in 1991.

Toews and Kane lifted a Stanley Cup in just their third year, then did it again in their sixth and eighth seasons.

There probably should have been more opportunities, but disastrous decisions by GM Stan Bowman - combined with the untimely retirement of Marian Hossa - accelerated the Hawks' demise.

Like us kids of the '80s and '90s, I'm sure those of you now in your late 20s can recall the emotions you felt during the Hawks' glorious run.

• Where were you when Kane made the puck disappear against the Flyers in 2010?

• How loud did you scream when Brent Seabrook scored the OT winner in Game 7 of the Western Conference semis against Detroit in 2013?

• How high did you leap when Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 2 goals in 17 seconds to clinch the Cup against the Bruins?

• Who were you high-fiving and hugging when Duncan Keith buried his own rebound against the Lightning at the United Center in Game 6 of the Final in 2015? Then, how many beverages were spilled when Kane cemented the Hawks' third title with 5:14 remaining?

No doubt, there were tough times too - none bigger than in 2014 when the Kings eliminated the Hawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals; or in 2016 when the Blues did the same in the opening round.

Now, it's time to allow these franchise icons to move on if they wish.

For you true die-hards it's going to hurt. You'll likely have a visceral reaction the first time you see Kane and Toews in enemy gear.

So soak up these coming weeks. Go to a game and show your appreciation for all Toews and Kane brought to the city for almost 16 years.

It was a helluva run.

And the memories - they'll always be there.


Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series on Monday, June 15, 2015, in Chicago. Associated Press

End of an era?

These could be the last times fans can see Jonathan Toews and/or Patrick Kane in Blackhawks uniforms at the United Center. The NHL trade deadine is March 3.

Date Opponent

Tuesday, Feb. 7 Anaheim

Friday, Feb. 10 Arizona

Sunday, Feb. 19 Toronto

Tuesday, Feb. 21 Vegas

Thursday, March 2 Dallas

Note: All games at 7:30 p.m. except Feb. 19 (5 p.m.)

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