Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman bobbed and weaved around conference-call questions of how recent long-term deals for several players would impact the team’s ability to re-sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
To the team website, however, Bowman gave the knockout answer.
Bowman told team historian Bob Verdi that Toews and Kane “will be here forever” in an article posted on the Blackhawks’ website early this morning. Bowman went on to say that, whatever levels the salary cap reaches in the future, the two superstars will still be in Blackhawks uniforms.
“Those two players put the Blackhawks back on the map, they’re up in a couple years, and whatever the numbers are, we’ll figure out the details,” Bowman told Verdi. “The notion that the money we’re spending now will affect our ability to keep Jonathan and Kane…it’s a non-issue.”
It was a definitive answer to the biggest question the Blackhawks face after recent long-term signings. Goaltender Corey Crawford signed a six-year deal worth $36 million on Monday and Niklas Hjalmarsson signed a five-year extension worth over $20 million on Wednesday. Bryan Bickell also got his raise in June.
But is Bowman’s latest answer on Toews and Kane a surprise? Hardly. As I wrote in this cyber space on Wednesday, why would the Blackhawks let the dynamic duo go? And why would they want to leave? The notion that Bowman, with the latest re-signings, didn’t consider Toews and Kane’s new deals — even if they can’t talk to the two about them until July 1 of next year — is absurd. This isn’t the summer of 2010, and the Blackhawks have learned from their checkbook imbalances of the past.
Why Bowman didn’t say all this on two separate conference calls, who knows. But the answer isn’t surprising. And seeing Toews and Kane in Blackhawks sweaters for years to come won’t be either.