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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Tuesday his priority for the offseason is signing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to contract extensions.
Kane and Toews are set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2014-15 season. Bowman can begin negotiations with them on July 1.
|Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said his priority for the offseason is signing Patrick Kane (88) and Jonathan Toews to contract extensions|
"It's the highest priority for us looking at next year," Bowman said. "There's no doubt that's what we're going to do. I've made it clear. We've never wavered from that. There's no doubting the importance of those two players.
"At the beginning, I sort of talked about the franchise in general and the direction we've taken, and it's really been tandem with those two players. When Patrick and Jonathan came onto the scene, it really sort of breathed life into the franchise and into our team. I think there was excitement. Certainly the success of the team has helped reach the level that it's at now. They've played a huge part in this."
Kane and Toews were both top-5 draft picks by the Blackhawks and began their careers as rookies in 2007. They have won two Stanley Cups together, been to six consecutive playoffs and reached four Western Conference finals. Kane has 178 goals and 315 assists in 515 career regular-season games, and Toews has 195 goals and 245 assists in 484 career games.
Kane and Toews said Tuesday they hadn't thought about their contracts since their season ended in the Western Conference finals on Sunday, but they both expressed a desire to sign extensions with the organization.
"Who could ever think of a better situation to be in?" the 26-year-old Toews said. "I think back to the day that I was drafted. I had absolutely no idea all this would be in store for me in my short career so far. I've been so fortunate to be a part of an unbelievable group of guys; the majority of our team has been together since I've been here. And just to see the growth of this franchise and the city of Chicago and the amazing fans that we have here. There's no doubt in my mind there's no better way to have it, I guess, as a hockey player.
"I think that said, like I said a moment earlier, things will take care of themselves when it comes to that. That's where I'm at."
Kane had similar thoughts.
"To be honest with you, I haven't thought a lot about it, especially with the season going on, the playoffs," the 25-year-old Kane said. "I'm sure we'll talk more about it as time goes along here all throughout the summer. I know that we both love it here in Chicago, and we love playing here and having the chance to win every year.
"I haven't even talked with my agent or [Toews] or my parents about it much at all. I think there's been some questions about it throughout the season that we could re-sign when the summer's up, but I think it was never really in our minds. I don't think it's something I or Jon play for is our contracts or the money. We're playing to try to win and because we love the game. You know we'll talk more about it. We'll see where it all goes and what happens, I guess. I don't know what to expect. I'll talk to Stan today. I'm sure that will probably come up. We'll see what all happens, I guess."
Kane and Toews share the same agent, Pat Brisson. They both agreed to identical five-year contract extensions in 2009.
"The negotiations, that's not something I'm going to do publicly," Bowman said. "But we got a great relationship with Pat Brisson. He's the best agent in the game. He understands. He's got a lot of high-profile clients. He gets deals done. I'm excited to work with him and get that worked out."
Bowman was confident the Blackhawks offered what Kane and Toews wanted most.
"I don't want to speak for them, but I know in my conversations it's been all very positive," Bowman said. "They've loved the experience here. The one think I know about both of them is they want to win. Bottom line, you take all the things set them aside, they're winners and they want to win, and we're committed to winning. We're going to do everything we can year after year to be a team that has a chance to win."