Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews still committed to Blackhawks despite ‘disappointing’ moves
Entering the final years of their contracts, the Hawks’ two veteran stalwarts both insisted Thursday they haven’t given much thought yet to the possibility of trades out of Chicago.
Patrick Kane’s phone was bombarded all summer by texts from friends and family who couldn’t avoid seeing his name in trade rumors throughout every corner of the internet.
Was he going to this team? Maybe that team? Maybe this other one?
Kane only chuckled about the cyclone of false information. Even Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since April after the start of Hawks training camp, Kane regularly laughed — with a bit of exasperation thrown in — at the onslaught of questions about his future.
Because behind the scenes, at least as far as he admitted, not much has been happening at all.
“You pay attention to it a little bit at first, and then you kind of just block it out,” Kane said. “I think a lot of the rumors are just rumors. Maybe [they’re started by] people looking for things to talk about in August when nothing’s really going on with hockey, right?”
A few things are true. Kane was upset by the Alex DeBrincat draft-day trade. Kane did sit down, after the draft, with Hawks general manager Kyle Davidson and associate GM Norm Maciver to discuss his and the organization’s futures and bounce some questions (and answers) off each other. Kane is aware he’s entering the last year of his contract.
But at the moment, the trade rumors are misleading: Kane is still a Hawk, through and through.
“There hasn’t been much discussion about anything, even with my agent or my parents or my family,” the 33-year-old winger said. “We all know the situation [with] what could potentially happen. It’s not really anything I’m thinking about as of yet. So we’ll see how it all plays out.
“Hopefully [the Hawks] can get off to a good start here and prove some people wrong. I know a lot of people are counting this team out, what we can do. But we have a lot of motivated players and a motivated coaching staff, as well.”
Roughly the same story also applies to Jonathan Toews, as “boring” — in his word — as it may be, as he enters the final year of his own contract.
The Hawks’ 34-year-old captain did have some discussions this summer with his family and agent Pat Brisson (who also represents Kane) about the option of a trade, but those discussions were not serious.
“I don’t think anything’s gotten to that point, or even close to it,” Toews said. “I don’t think it will for quite some time this season. The thought for myself personally has always been to keep trudging forward and getting better.
“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 now.”
Davidson has long emphasized he won’t approach either legendary forward to ask him to waive his no-trade clause, a policy that places all the power squarely in Kane and Toews’ hands.
When neither revealed any intention to leave during the time period before the first few days of free agency, after which point most teams had committed most of their salary-cap space, it became clear they’d both start the season with the Hawks — even if that logic failed to quiet the chatter.
Now that the moment has come, the focus shifts to the trade deadline, which seems like the next most logical time for Kane and Toews to depart. But if — come February or March — one or both still aren’t willing to waive their clauses and instead want to finish the season where they started it, that’s exactly what will occur. They wield that power.
“It would’ve been probably easy for people to jump the gun and try to do something after maybe some trades were made, or guys weren’t signed, or whatever,” Kane said. “But that’s not the position we’re in right now.”
Speaking of trades that were made, however, Kane and Toews’ current commitment to the Hawks doesn’t mean they liked what they saw this summer.
Davidson shipping off DeBrincat to the Senators and Kirby Dach to the Canadiens not only set the Hawks up to tank in 2022-23 but also removed two of the more well-established, well-liked guys from the locker room. Kane and Toews were, and are, openly unhappy about it.
“It’s disappointing, and it was kind of crushing at first,” Kane said. “[Alex is] in a good situation in Ottawa. He’s going to play with some good players, put up numbers and do well, and it’ll be fun to watch him do that. At the same time, you wish you were doing it with him, because we had that chemistry. We had the friendship off the ice. He was at the point where he wasn’t scared to give it back to me or anything like that. We really pushed each other. [He’s] definitely a guy I’ll miss playing with.”
Said Toews: “No doubt [I felt] a little bit of shock, a little bit of anger. We all felt something was coming, and part of me was a little bit disappointed. Because you see those guys every day, you know the type of people they are. You see a guy like Alex or Kirby get traded away, it’s hard. All of a sudden, you get a draft pick, and it’s someone you don’t know [who] will take years to prove what they’ve got.”
Toews added he has “come around” to Davidson’s rebuilding plan since then, but believing Dach “didn’t ever get his fair shot here in Chicago” still visibly bothers him.
As far as his own health, Toews feels significantly better now than he did at the camp last year, but not perfect.
Kane, too, remains slightly hampered by the unidentified injury that has nagged him since spring 2021, yet he was able to perform more “athletic, dynamic movements” in his training and rehabbing this summer than last.
Considering how productive Kane was last season in spite of the injury — tallying 92 points, the third-most of his career, in 78 games — he seems more likely to be inhibited this season by lower-quality linemates (he skated Thursday alongside Max Domi and Taylor Raddysh) than his health.
Nonetheless, anything Kane and Toews do — or don’t do — on the ice this season will probably be overshadowed by trade speculation. That’s the reality. But don’t expect them to acknowledge that reality often.
“I’ve always been pretty good at blocking other stuff out ... and just focusing on playing hockey,” Kane said. “So I think it’ll be pretty easy [to ignore] because of that.”
- Ian Mitchell will miss six weeks with a left wrist injury. It’s a tough blow at the start of a potentially make-or-break season for the 23-year-old prospect defenseman.
- Prospect forwards Colton Dach and Paul Ludwinski did not practice Thursday due to concussion protocol.
- Defenseman Connor Murphy missed practice Thursday for personal reasons — his billet parent in Sarnia, Ontario, died this week — but he will return soon.
- Defenseman Jake McCabe, who remains out until late November or early December recovering from cervical spine surgery, surprisingly practiced Thursday in a non-contact jersey.