SBD/July 10, 2014/Franchises

Toews, Kane To Remain The Faces Of The Blackhawks After Signing Identical Extensions

Kane (l) and Toews (r) were both added to the Blackhawks roster in '07
The Blackhawks agreed to terms with C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane yesterday on identical eight-year, $84M contract extensions that carry salary-cap hits of $10.5M per year apiece -- the "highest in league history," according to Chris Kuc of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The combined $168M "dedicated long term to two players carries cap implications" that Blackhawks VP & GM Stan Bowman will "have to work his way through when he assembles future rosters." But the extensions were "a commitment the organization was more than willing to make considering the impact Toews and Kane have had since they entered the NHL together" in '07 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/10). In Chicago, Mark Lazerus writes there "never was any suspense," as Toews and Kane "were never going anywhere." The duo "woke a dormant, moribund franchise," and the extensions "ensure the Hawks will remain competitive and relevant into the next decade." The $21M per season "earmarked for Toews and Kane puts them" at more than $65M in payroll with just 15 players signed (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/10).

FACES OF THE FRANCHISE: In Chicago, David Haugh considers the $168M the Blackhawks "committed to Kane and Toews a down payment on a dynasty." The question "now shifts to how close the Kane-Toews era will come to producing the six championships Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won for the Bulls in the '90s." Kane and Toews "understood the symbiosis of a relationship with the Hawks and settled for a deal" that paid each $26M less than a max contract. They will "carry the largest salary-cap hits in league history, yet nobody who understands the Hawks narrative scoffs -- not when they are largely responsible for selling out 277 straight nights at the United Center." They "did not restore dignity to the organization alone, but their maturation as world-class hockey players and first-class individuals coincided nicely with the evolution of the front office from primitive to pragmatic" under Chair Rocky Wirtz. Haugh: "It isn't every day your favorite team makes a move that guarantees relevance into the next decade" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/10). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen writes Toews and Kane are the "faces of what has become one of the most powerful franchises in the NHL." The rise of the Blackhawks "from mediocrity to huge financial success coincides with Rocky Wirtz succeeding his late father Bill Wirtz as owner." But the "affable Wirtz would be the first to say that Toews and Kane have been a major reason for that success." An argument can be made that Toews and Kane "are more important to the Blackhawks than even Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are to the Pittsburgh Penguins because of the way the team has marketed them" (USA TODAY, 7/10). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Rory Boylen wrote the price for keeping Toews and Kane "almost doesn’t matter -- it had to be done" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 7/9).
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