ANAHEIM — Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews don't have to play another game for the Chicago Blackhawks and there will still be statues of the two of them outside the United Center one day. That's how much they've meant to the organization to this point, and it's why everyone wants to know what they're thinking as Chicago prepares to embark on a rebuild under GM Kyle Davidson.
After Wednesday's morning skate in Anaheim, Toews was asked whether the timeline of the rebuild has made the soon-to-be 34-year-old captain question his future with the Blackhawks. Here was his response:
"I wouldn't say it makes me question it as much as, for the longest time, the thought never entered my mind to leave Chicago," Toews said. "And in this case, you can't help but picture yourself and what it'd be like to play for another team and what that experience would bring.
"That pops into your mind obviously, but again, Chicago's my home, I love the Blackhawks, I love the organization, it's been my family for a long time and I'm not putting the cart before the horse or getting ahead of myself in any way."
It was raw. It was honest. And, quite frankly, I had zero problems with it because it actually provided a legitimate glimpse into where his head might be at going into the summer and the conversations he's undoubtedly going to have with the management group behind closed doors.
"Jonathan's an extremely passionate person, and I respect his viewpoints and what he has to say," Davidson said on Monday in reference to Toews' comments in an interview with The Athletic's Mark Lazerus about the “disheartening” Brandon Hagel trade. "In general too, I don't think it's the job of the player to have to worry about those decisions. They're focused on the next day and their performance, so our purviews are a little bit different and our outlooks are a little bit different and our responsibilities are a little bit different.
"I respect what he had to say. It doesn't catch me off guard. That's who he is. He wears his heart on his sleeve and that's why he's been so great. He's going to go into the Hall of Fame because of some of those traits. That's totally fine. That dialogue is going to remain and he's going to understand everything I'm planning. As a player, I wouldn't expect anything different from him."
Interim head coach Derek King didn't have an issue with the comments, either.
"He’s an emotional guy," King said. "He’s going to speak like that and he has every right to. And that’s hard. He’s been in the organization for how long and he’s won three Cups and he wants to win another one and then all of a sudden he’s part of a rebuild.
"When you see some of the guys that maybe you thought would be part of that rebuild get traded, his emotions took over and he wasn’t happy about it. But that’s Jonathan, right? He’s fine. I kind of left it alone and didn’t really talk to him about it. That's just guys showing their emotions, there's nothing wrong with that."
Kane, perhaps recognizing the attention Toews' comments received earlier in the day, respectfully didn't feel like this was the right time to address his future when presented the same question following a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks in which he recorded yet another three-point effort.
"Not right now," Kane said. "That's a discussion for another day or over the summer, whatever it is. I'm happy that I'm here right now. Just going to try to finish out the season strong."
One thing is for certain: Davidson is going to continue keeping Kane and Toews in the loop on the direction of the franchise and has said from the beginning that there will be "no surprises on their end." He's keeping his word, whether the two franchise cornerstones are completely bought into the rebuild or not.
"I think Kyle is sincere," Toews said. "Obviously he's had some tough decisions to make already. I'm looking forward to just being in touch with him on his thought process and what the near future looks like, at least this summer, and at the end day, just hear what he thinks about my game. It's never easy, but it's always good to hear some honest thoughts from his vantage point and go from there."
Click here to subscribe to the Blackhawks Talk Podcast for free.