|« Great Bull Run Hits Hawthorne Race Course Saturday||Carmelo Stays a Knick; Bulls Move to Plan B »|
Blackhawks Fri Jul 11 2014
It never was a matter of if, but moreso when Stan Bowman would follow through on his promise of making Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane Blackhawks for life. The captain and most dynamic player in the league have come a long way in such a short amount of time in this town, and Wednesday afternoon, both were rewarded with dual eight-year, $10.5 million contracts, which lock in the stars through the 2022-'23 season.
Not to reminisce about a couple of players in their mid-20s, but looking back a mere seven years ago when both were coming into their own in the NHL, it was clear it wasn't a question of if, but when Toews and Kane would lead the Hawks -- a franchise in great need of a boost at the time -- to a Stanley Cup championship.
A few rings, Olympic medals and Conn Smythe trophies later, two of the most recognizable faces in the league were handsomely rewarded by the very team they helped resurrect from obscurity.
Both players came up around the same time in the league, both players signed equal extensions at the same time five years ago, and now both players have extended once again, further prolonging their careers in Chicago for fans to enjoy well into the next decade.
It seems only fitting Kane and Toews did this together, being two figures that surely will go down as the greatest to wear the iconic Blackhawks logo. These are two players so talented and exciting to watch on the ice, they've each helped team president John McDonough's job a little easier in marketing a product that was left for dead.
Everywhere you look, Kane and Toews shirts and sweaters are on the torsos of boys and girls young and old. Amazing to see, considering just 11 years ago, it was the names of Sosa or Wood in Cubbie Blue that made the rounds of every outdoor festival and church picnic. Times have changed, and no doubt for the better.
What the contracts signify is a chance for the Hawks to continue to play for the Stanley Cup. Indeed hockey is a team sport, but having two of the best players on the planet, wearing the same logo, is a coup for any franchise.
Of course the big question now remains what the Hawks will do with the rest of the team around Kane and Toews. According to CapGeek.com, the Hawks currently are over the $69 million cap by roughly $2.2 million for next season. There's still some time to deal with that before the season starts, but something Stan Bowman and company will likely begin to address now that the dynamic duo is signed.
The Kane and Toews contracts don't kick in until after next season, which currently shows the Hawks as being $3.2 million under the cap. However, that doesn't include the re-signing of key players such as Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger.
Then again, there's the word that come a few seasons from now, the latest NHL-Rogers Communications deal of $5.2 billion will kick in, meaning a much larger cap space for each team -- supposedly upwards of $75 million to $80 million in total. That of course would help matters greatly, especially with Saad expected to get a hefty pay increase as well as any other prospects up and coming through the system.
That's all down the road, however, and all that matters now -- today -- is that the Hawks locked up two important sports figures who will give even the newest of fan two years from now something about which to dream. Coming into the league, winning, celebrating and re-signing together have made these two forever synonymous with one another. And even if these extensions don't automatically engrave their names onto another Stanley Cup (or two), you can bet their names will forever be etched into the collective memories of fans everywhere just as their numbers will be retired and raised up into the rafters of the United Center.