Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman recently said he planned to re-sign the 25-year-old Toews and 24-year-old Patrick Kane when they become free agents after the 2014-15 season and keep them as Blackhawks forever.
“Of course, [I’d like to be here forever,]” Toews said at the University of Notre Dame on the first day of Blackhawks training camp. “It meant a lot to hear [Bowman say that.]
“[I'm] sitting here with two other guys [Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith] as well that I think understand how special it is to play in Chicago. For myself, to be drafted a number of years ago and to have played in six seasons for the Hawks and living in Chicago and to have won two Cups already, the amazing things that have happened since I’ve been a Blackhawk, not a lot of young players can count themselves that lucky to have those chances. I owe that to my teammates and organization.
“If my potential is to spend a lot of time like that in Chicago, then so be it. I’m just enjoying every season as it comes. I think right now it would be tough to find any reason to want to play somewhere else. I don’t think there’s any better place in the league or around the world to play hockey in.”
Kane and Toews have been often considered the faces of the franchise since their rookie season in 2007-08. Both have been among the team’s star players since then and were core pieces to the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championships in 2010 and 2013. They both finished among the top 7 in voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy last season.
Kane and Toews agreed to five-year contract extensions in 2009 and will become unrestricted free agents after the 2014-15 season. Bowman is unable to negotiate a new contract with them until after the 2013-14 season.
Bowman said Wednesday he had his reasons for being so confident Kane, who wasn't made available to the media on Wednesday, and Toews would be Blackhawks forever.
“No. 1, I know these players, and I know they want to win,” Bowman said. “I’ve had conversations with both of them, and they have faith in ownership. I think it really starts at the top. [Blackhawks chairman] Rocky [Wirtz] is going to do whatever it takes to make the franchise a perennial winner. I think ultimately that’s what these players are looking for.
“They are certainly comfortable with the surroundings. They’ve been in Chicago their whole career. I’m not going to speak for them; they can probably explain these things. But I know the character of those two. They want to win. They want to win next year and the year after. I can make a commitment to them that’s our focus year to year.
“The specifics of all the details, that’s not something we got to get caught up in. When you find two players like that, who are quality people, there’s no doubt you’re going to make it work.”
Bowman received a two-year extension himself on Wednesday and is signed through the 2017-18 season. Bowman previously re-signed forward Bryan Bickell, goaltender Corey Crawford and Niklas Hjalmarsson to lengthy extensions this offseason. Sharp, Keith, forward Marian Hossa and defenseman Brent Seabrook are all also signed through at least the 2015-16 season.
The Blackhawks will attempt this season to become the first franchise to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the salary-cap era began. The Blackhawks return 19 players who appeared in the playoffs for them last season.