The two forwards have had their share of individual and team honors, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Now they will celebrate another milestone together.
Kane and Toews will play their 1,000th game as teammates when the Blackhawks face the New York Rangers on Sunday at the United Center (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, ESPN+, SN NOW).
Asked if time had flown by or if it felt like 1,000 games, Kane joked “maybe 2,000”.
“Yeah, I would agree with that statement,” Toews said with a laugh. “I guess moments when you think back or see a video from years past and it almost feels like it’s from another era, but at the same time, it’s almost Christmas and it’s another year where it flies by.
“That’s the thing, you have to try to slow things down and appreciate and not take things for granted even though you’re in such a rhythm. But at the same time, it was pretty special to share the road and be a Blackhawk. as long as I did and have done it with the Stones all along. It was pretty special and we’re both very thankful for what happened.”
Toews and Kane are the 11th group of teammates to play 1,000 regular-season games together, and the second active duo to do so along with the Los Angeles Kings guard. Drew Doughty and forward Anze Kopitar (1028 games from 2009 to now). That list also includes former teammates of Kane and Toews, defenders Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who played a combined 1,069 games between 2006 and 2020.
Keith said Toews and Kane shared the same characteristics as he and Seabrook.
“When it comes to internal competition, whether you’re teammates or best friends, you’re always striving to be better. I know me and the Seabs have certainly had that and it pushes each other to be better. Keith, who retired from the NHL on July 12.
“You look at other League pairings in different teams, for example [Pittsburgh Penguins forwards] [Evgeni] Malkin and Sidney Crosby. I think they’ve won back-to-back Conn Smythe trophies. It’s a healthy thing for teammates to push each other to be better. I know Kane and Toews certainly do that with each other.”
The Blackhawks are 530-346-123 in games Toews and Kane have played together. 34-year-old players scored 298 goals. Toews has scored 116 goals with an assist from Kane, and Kane has scored 101 goals with an assist from Toews. Both scored 81 goals.
According to NHL Stats, when Toews and Kane score in every game, the Blackhawks are 91-9-5 in the regular season and 6-1 in the playoffs. They played 620 regular season games in which they were on the ice at least once at even strength for 30 seconds or more. There have been two games with 24 such incidents, both in 2010-11 on Nov. 6 vs. Atlanta and March 9 vs. Tampa Bay.
“I mean, coming into a franchise that was hurting and turning it around, obviously with a lot of help, but those two guys who are the leaders and the face and whatever you want to call it as leaders,” the former Blackhawks broadcaster. Eddie Olchik said: “It’s success individually, success collectively, team-wise.
“And obviously look at what they’ve done for the local game, the impact it’s had on youth hockey. I was very much front and center at the Blackhawks youth hockey camps. We saw it lying there, and then suddenly every young boy and girl wanted to pick up a hockey stick, put on a Blackhawks sweater, and become a Keaner or a Johnny.”
Kane leads the Blackhawks with 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) this season and has 1,202 points (434 goals, 768 assists) in 1,136 games with them. Toews has 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in 28 games and 869 points (367 goals, 502 assists) in 1,042 games this season. Each is in the final season of an eight-year contract he signed on July 9, 2014.
“If you look at the history of the Chicago Blackhawks, and it’s a long, rich tradition of hockey here in Chicago, and you know there’s Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita and there’s Toews and Kane,” Blackhawks broadcaster Troy Murray said. Hull and Mikita led the Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup and are both in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Those are names that generations will remember for years to come, and the impact that Kane and Toews have had on the city of Chicago, not just a franchise, but bringing this franchise back to relevance, so to speak,” Murray said. “Three Stanley Cups, so a whole new generation of fans can appreciate the championships here in Chicago because of those two guys in particular, in large part. So the impact is very significant of what these guys have meant to the city of Chicago. duo and the Blackhawks.”
Toews was selected No. 3 overall by the Blackhawks in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Kane was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft. They were both part of a young core expected to return the Blackhawks to their former glory. Keith, Seabrook, defender Niklas Hjalmarsson and forward Patrick Sharp were also in that starting line-up, but the bulk of the load fell on the shoulders of Toews and Kane. But they said they never felt any extra pressure.
“I think we were too young and too stupid to know any better, to be honest with you,” Kane said. “I think we were just excited to play hockey and try to help the team as much as possible.
“Obviously it got interesting when the building started filling up and we started winning games. Even at the end of my rookie season, I was somehow pushing for the playoffs. The next year, the city was just on fire and it was all about the Blackhawks. And it was really fun growing up like that. Yeah, obviously we’ve been very fortunate to come to Chicago, a great sports city, an organization like the Blackhawks that has been so well run over the years.
Toews and Kane’s first game together was on October 10, 2007 in a 2–1 loss against the San Jose Sharks. It was Toews’ NHL debut and Kane’s third game of his rookie season. Their first shift was as regulars, with Tuomo Ruutu just over a minute into the game. Toews scored his first NHL goal on his first shot and Kane added an assist on the second at 13:43 of the first period.
Kane said he and Toews played together a lot during their first few seasons in the league. Later, as the Blackhawks’ depth improved, former coach Joel Quenneville split them up to give opposing teams two scoring threats to try to defend.
“There’s a bunch of different players that have played with them, whether it’s Sharpe or myself [Brandon] Saad,” said former NHL forward Brian Bickel, who won the Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015. They had a skilled playmaker and horse who did everything to make the line work. Like me, you throw a couple of candles in there, you make a good line to be successful.”
When the Blackhawks needed an offensive punch, Toews and Kane came together again. That “nuclear option,” as Quenneville called their reunions, was used more often in the playoffs. Vegas Golden Knights quarterback Alec Martinez, who won Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014, has extensive experience working with Kane and Toe individually and together. The Blackhawks and Kings met each other in the Western Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014.
“They can both put the ball in the back of the net, but obviously Toews is really down,” he said. “Tough guy to tackle down low. He’s great to tackle in addition to defensively. With Kane, he can grab the handles, he can move the board, his vision, the way he can skate and the way he creates space for himself is unmatched in the league.”
“When they come together, it’s a pretty tough combination. You have to be ready for any of them, maybe be a little more aware of one or the other in different parts of the ice. Kane really likes bringing it back and creating it. That space for himself. Then below the points, Toews also makes his presence known. That’s not to say Kane isn’t doing his thing [presence known] low low They’re complete players, they bring something a little different and when they’re together, they’re a tough matchup.”
The two found success on the ice. Off the ice, they’ve had their moments, especially as road roommates early in their careers.
“I mean, you’re in a room with someone for five or six years, there’s going to be some battles,” Kane said. “So it’s funny when we kind of look back on those times and talk about some stories here and there.”
Both were the subject of pranks by Sharpe or former striker Adam Burish. Or friends would try to start arguments between them.
“There were times when we were in line with Buffy [Dustin Byfuglien] and if we were silent [and] we weren’t on top of each other on the bench, Buff just knew how to stir the pot. He usually said the same. “Kaner why don’t you go over there Towzer?” And then suddenly, we’re looking at each other. He’ll just make us go. Next thing you know, the two of us would be fighting and Buff would just be laughing and laughing.”
Toews and Kane always knew how to handle each other. That rivalry led the Blackhawks to great success as they qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs nine straight seasons from 2009-17.
“I see the relationship as being like brothers,” former Blackhawks coach Mark Crawford said. “I have a lot of brothers, I’m one of seven boys, and I see that relationship, that they push each other, they compete with each other, and I just think the overriding factor in that is that they really care about each one. for: in a different fun way.
“They push each other and want to outdo each other. That part is really good. Again, like brothers, the fact that they care about each other, they want to see each other well, but very similar [former Vancouver Canucks forwards Daniel and Henrik] Darlings, they like the bragging rights of being a little better than the other. It’s mostly unspoken, but I’ve always felt it’s there.”
Kane and Toews helped put the Blackhawks back on the hockey map. Their futures here are uncertain, with each expiring and the Blackhawks (7-18-4), last in the Central Division, rebuilding. Whether they’re still here after the March 3 NHL trade deadline remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s been quite a trip for both of them in Chicago.
“It’s been a good ride,” Kane said. “It’s crazy that it’s 1,000 games, but obviously he’s meant a lot to the franchise and the teams over the years with his leadership and being the captain and the way he leads the team. It was a pleasure playing with him for so long. “.