"He's had a great season," Kane said recently. "I think he's been the best player on our team and pretty much the best player every night I've played with him."
Toews countered by saying Kane was more worthy.
"I'm honored you guys would even say [I'm a candidate,] but I think there's another guy across the room there that deserves it just as much and probably more," Toews said. "To have two guys in the talks like that, it always shows that you have a great supporting cast."
The Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player most valuable to his team, is voted on by Professional Hockey Writers' Association, which includes five members in the Chicago chapter. According the PHWA, 178 members, the largest number in the association's history, cast votes this season.
The case for Toews as a Hart finalist had been his overall play. He ranked among the league leaders in nearly every category while helping the Blackhawks to an NHL-best 36-7-5 record during the regular season. He was tied for first with 56 takeaways, second with a 59.9 faceoff winning percentage, third with a plus-28 rating, tied for 13th with 48 points, tied for fifth with 23 goals, tied for 29th with 25 assists and tied for sixth with five game-winning goals.
The argument for Kane was built on his offensive consistency. He led the Blackhawks with 55 points (tied for fifth in the NHL), which included 23 goals (tied for fifth) and 32 assists (tied for 14th). He recorded points in 35 of 47 games this season and had two points streaks of eight games. Adding to Kane's regular-season performance was the fact he rarely played with the same players on the second line because Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp missed a combined 33 games due to injury.
The Blackhawks' wait for another Hart winner has been going on since Stan Mikita won it in 1968. The Blackhawks won it four consecutive times from 1965-68. Bobby Hull was awarded it in 1965 and 1966, and Mikita won it in 1967 and 1968. Al Rollins (1954) and Max Bentley (1946) are the other Blackhawks to win it.