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Toews and Kane 2 who make Hawks 1

They are uniting factor that should keep franchise in title hunt for some time to come

David Haugh

In the Wake of the News

June 26, 2013

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Still trying to process the most scintillating 17 seconds in Stanley Cup Final history — will we ever? — Blackhawks President John McDonough stopped a questioner late Monday night at TD Garden who brought up the D word.

"We're not talking about a dynasty here,'' McDonough interrupted.

Well, we are even if McDonough isn't. Winning two Cup titles in 36 months qualifies as a conversation starter.

Understandably, spending 24 years in the Cubs organization conditioned McDonough never to assume anything about next season. Complacency seldom finds a place to settle on the desks of the best sports executives. Every year represents a challenge unrelated to the previous one.

So perhaps McDonough will allow himself a little time to savor the Hawks becoming the first team to win a Cup final game in regulation after trailing in the final two minutes. McDonough needs a few days anyway to explain how, according to the team's website, he ended up in possession of the puck Dave Bolland knocked in for the game-winning goal with 58.3 seconds left in the 3-2 victory.

But by the end of Sunday's draft, rest assured McDonough and general manager Stan Bowman will begin focusing less on forming a dynasty and more on finding ways to re-sign Bryan Bickell, extend the contract of coach Joel Quenneville that expires in 2014 and make the Hawks better before training camp.

Key issues exist even after the greatest of seasons. Yet as long as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane stick around and stay healthy, the Hawks figure to remain consistent winners and legitimate Cup contenders.

That takes nothing away from the rest of the Hawks' core of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Niklas Hjalmarsson and, now, Corey Crawford. But like it has since their rookie seasons of 2007-08, everything that happens to the Blackhawks revolves around Toews and Kane, their franchise players. Like Quenneville says, they're special.

When it comes to the career arcs of Kane and Toews, Chicago only wonders two things as everybody kills time awaiting Friday's parade. How many championships will Kane and Toews, 24 and 25, respectively, win before they hang up the skates? And where at the hockey arena that doubles as a basketball gym known as the United Center will they put the statues of the city's most accomplished sports tandem besides Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen?

They cast Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in bronze outside Gate 31/2 and, as great as both were, they only won the Cup once. Kane and Toews stand at two, and counting, with matching Conn Smythe trophies too.

The window to adding to their Cup collection, realistically, looks to stay open for at least three to five years if the Hawks continue to make smart personnel decisions. Toews and Kane both have two years left on identical deals they signed in December 2009 and will warrant renegotiation sooner rather than later. If Bowman can finagle the payroll well enough to make the Hawks the first team in the NHL salary-cap era to win two Cups, he can figure out how to lock up the two faces of the organization. Seeing one play without the other would be like hearing somebody else besides Jim Cornelison sing the anthem before a Hawks game. Some things in hockey just go together.

The rare chemistry Toews and Kane have shared since Day 1 six years ago helped create a fun, comfortable environment for players who come and go. Superstars on the same team occasionally don't get along and we take for granted how well these two twentysomethings with personalities as different as their games always have complemented each other. They share a bond in a dressing room where a strength of the Blackhawks can be found in friendship.

"There's something about our core,'' Kane said. "Hopefully we can stay together a long time.''

Watching the Hawks celebrate on the ice for an hour after clinching the Cup reinforced the value of camaraderie in hockey. Teammates acted as happy for veterans such as Michal Handzus and Jamal Mayers as they were for themselves. Toews danced. Kane laughed. Bryan Bickell posed. Keith tried the Cup out as a crib for his infant son. Andrew Shaw hugged so many players that most of them had blood stains from the cut on his face. Teammates embraced Crawford as tightly as his dad did.

The Hawks had chartered a jet for 200 family and friends to watch Game 6, a classy gesture by an organization that understands what's important. Teams that build winners often start by building relationships.

As Toews playfully pulled down Kane's hat before the buddies disappeared off the ice for the final time this memorable season, it was obvious the Blackhawks successfully built both.

dhaugh@tribune.com

Twitter @DavidHaugh