Kane, Toews not talking about trade possibilities as Blackhawks' camp opens
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were in peak form as the Blackhawks opened training camp Thursday at Fifth Third Arena.
And we're not talking about how they looked on the ice.
No, this has to do with how they addressed their NHL futures with an overflow room of media members. The future Hall of Famers took separate turns at the one-mic podium, but they delivered the exact same message.
We're excited to be here. We're excited that camp is starting. We have not -- in any way, shape or form -- thought about or asked for a trade. And who knows -- maybe we can shock the world and have a great season right here in Chicago.
Only Toews slightly strayed out of this lane after he was asked if he's having a difficult time balancing wanting to stay captain of the Blackhawks or if he'd like a chance to win another Stanley Cup.
Toews began by saying how proud he is of the job he's done as captain and is "thankful" for all he's been able to accomplish as the team's leader.
"To the other part of your question, I don't really know," said Toews, who centered a line with Colin Blackwell and Tyler Johnson as his wingers during Thursday's 45-minute practice. "We'll see. I mean obviously it would be fun to be on a winning team and live that dream again.
"But I'm not letting my mind get there right now."
It's easy to say that in September, but the noise will only get louder as the calendar flips to 2023 and will build to a earth-shattering crescendo if Toews and/or Kane are still in Chicago as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches.
"It could be noise if you take it that way," said Kane, who was on a line with Max Domi and Taylor Raddysh. "I've always been pretty good at blocking other stuff out off the ice ... just to focus on playing hockey and getting out there and doing what I love to do. ... It'll be pretty easy because I have a lot of experience to draw back on as far as that type of situation.
"It'll be an interesting year, though. We'll see what happens."
Both figure to be dealt at some point, although they must waive their no movement clause first. Hawks GM Kyle Davidson must find teams with enough salary cap space to fit Kane or Toews on their roster, and that will be easier as inevitable injuries hit contenders.
Any player on long term injured reserve (LTIR) doesn't count against the cap, even if they return for the postseason. This is why the Hawks were able to acquire Antoine Vermette in 2015 after Kane fractured his clavicle in 2015.
Over the summer Kane could only chuckle about some of the rumors floating around social media. None had any validity, but that didn't stop friends from inundating the Hawks' star with messages.
"A lot of the rumors are just rumors and maybe people looking for things to talk about in August when nothing's really going on with hockey, right?" Kane said. "And then you have buddies or people sending you different things, different team names and question marks. Things like that."
One particularly rough day came on July 7, when Davidson sent Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa and Kirby Dach to Montreal.
Kane called the trade of DeBrincat "crushing." Toews, asked about both deals, admitted to feeling "a little bit of shock, a little bit of anger."
"Not only did ... we have some good chemistry on the ice, but he was one of my best friends and closest teammates off the ice as well," Kane said of DeBrincat. "It was tough. He was at the point where he wasn't scared to give it back to me or anything like that. I think we really pushed each other.
"Definitely a guy I'll miss playing with."
Said Toews: "You know the type of people they are, you know what they bring in the locker room, you know what they do on the ice, and it goes far beyond goals and assists. You see a guy like Alex or Kirby get traded away, it's hard."
That day may be coming for Toews and Kane as well.
Toews (12 goals, 25 assists last season) would be a solid addition to a contender's third line. And off the ice, imagine the calming influence he would bring during the most grueling weeks of the year.
Kane (26G, 66A) would instantly make almost any contender the favorite to win it all.
It will be hard for fans to say goodbye, but Davidson's job is to get as much as he can for his franchise icons.
But all that's for another day. In the here and now, it's about trying to have as much fun as possible as yet another season gets underway.
"I'm coming in here just fully excited to play hockey and not have any expectation," Toews said. "Not be too concerned with what happens for me down the road this season or even beyond that. It's a fun place to be. ...
"If we simplify and just focus on our game and focus on our systems and really learn from some of the things that went on last year, I think we'll be able to surprise some people and surprise ourselves.
"For myself personally, I think it's just enjoying that process."