Blackhawks' Toews, Kane more than teammates

Updated 7/17/2014 5:12 AM
  • Blackhawks teammates Jonathan Toews, left, and Patrick Kane smile during a news conference at the United Center on Wednesday.

      Blackhawks teammates Jonathan Toews, left, and Patrick Kane smile during a news conference at the United Center on Wednesday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Over the years, you get accustomed to the kidding that goes on between Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews from across the locker room.

Mention one guy's name to the other after a practice or a morning skate and you'll no doubt see a mischievous smile start to appear, perhaps a little eye roll as well, and then they'll dutifully answer the question posed, usually making sure they get a little fun-loving jab in at the end because, well, that's just what these two longtime teammates do.

They're like brothers, lifelong friends. It's just the way it is. Nothing gets past either one.

But Wednesday at the United Center, where the two were part of a news conference formally announcing their identical eight-year, $84 million contract extensions, something seemed a little different.

Sure, Toews got in a little jab at Kane about their early days on the road, saying, "It's crazy to think we've been together for seven years. We were roommates for five of them. Thank God that changed or we might not be sitting here today."

But that was about it for the funny stuff.

The rest of the way, the dynamic duo seemed to take a step back, looking at the big picture, and speaking from the heart about what they've meant to each other, professionally and personally.

Kane, especially, was quite introspective.

"I'm humbled to be up here alongside one of the greatest players in the league today, and, I think, the greatest leader in the NHL," he said of the captain.

"It's special. I was fortunate enough to come in with him at the same time. Being 18, to kind of have him there with me, we could lean on each other at certain times with what was going on in our lives. It really helped us early in our careers.

"It's made my career very easy, and I owe a lot of success to him."

But it wasn't just being alongside Toews that left No. 88 humbled.

"All the trust and faith you're putting into me with this contract really hits home to the heart," said Kane, who went through some very public off-ice issues earlier in his career.

"I'm just happy that they stuck with me through everything."

So are the Blackhawks. With Toews and Kane in the lineup, they've made six consecutive playoff appearances, four Western finals appearances and two Stanley Cups.

Like team president John McDonough pointed out Wednesday, the Toews-Kane, Kane-Toews has become a brand of its own, and that's part of the reason for the identical contracts, according to Toews.

"We're both equally blessed to have had this amazing career so far and be included in the same sentence," he said. "We're different people and different players, and we contribute in our own ways.

"It's just goes hand in hand. We're not really gonna mess with that. It's worked out so far. He's made my job and my road to this point a lot easier."

And the siblinglike rivalry between the two stars promises to make things even better for the organization and the fans down the road.

"Although we've had a lot of battles, whether it was in the room or on the bench, I think we have a friendly competition," Kane said, "and as long as we're together, that competition is going to keep getting greater and greater and won't let either of us slack off at all."

And it will only help strengthen an already amazing bond between the two, on and off the ice.

"We've both had a lot of great days and a lot of amazing moments in our career so far," Toews said. "But there are some days when things aren't easy and don't necessarily go your way. It always seems like that other guy's there to deflect the pressure a little easier and to make those tougher days a little easier.

"In so many ways we build off each other as players and as people. It's been amazing so far. It would be kind of weird to be on a team without Kaner."

No kidding.

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