October 10, 2007.
That was the first time that both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were teammates with the Chicago Blackhawks. On that night, a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Toews scored his first career NHL goal and Kane had the secondary assist on the play.
It was the beginning of a new era in Blackhawks hockey that night. An era that starred Kane and Toews as the faces of the franchise, alongside a slew of organizational pillars like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and many more.
While both have played over 1,000 games each (Kane playing in his 1,137th game and Toews clocking his 1,043rd on Sunday against the New York Rangers), with the puck dropping on Sunday night at the United Center, the duo will be playing in their 1,000th game as Blackhawks teammates.
Toews and Kane are now the 11th set of teammates to accomplish this feat in NHL history. The Blackhawks hold a 530-344-123 record when both Kane and Toews are in the lineup. When Toews and Kane each score a goal in a game, the Blackhawks are 91-9-5 in the regular season and 6-1 in the playoffs.
The full list of teammates to reach the milestone, via NHL Stats, include some of the biggest legends in NHL history: Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio with the Detroit Red Wings, Henrik and Daniel Sedin with the Vancouver Canucks, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar, and Kopitar and Drew Doughty with the Los Angeles Kings, Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper with the Red Wings, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook with the Blackhawks, Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson with the Montreal Canadiens, George Armstrong and Tim Horton with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mark Messier and Kevin Lowe with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom with the Washington Capitals.
It has been an absolutely wild ride for Kane and Toews in their NHL career with the Blackhawks that has produced three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Award for each of them, a Selke Award for Toews and a Hart Trophy for Kane, just to name a few of their accomplishments with Chicago. They will both be first-ballot Hockey Hall of Famers, they will both have their numbers retired by the Blackhawks, and I would be surprised if there already wasn’t a pair of bronze statues committed for the duo once they hang up their skates. They are forever tied together in hockey history.
That’s their legacy. No matter how or when their careers in Chicago end.
“It’s crazy it’s been 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 drives the team too. It’s been a pleasure to play with him that long.” Kane said earlier this week of his former Blackhawks roommate Toews.
“We came in together as rookies and, at least for me, really leaned on him,” Kane said. “We roomed together for five or six years, but mostly good times and just grew up together.”
“There were moments where I was envious of his confidence and wasn’t sure where he got it from sometimes,” Toews said of Kane. “But he was one of those guys, he had a lot of confidence in his game and who he was off the ice as well. Believe it or not, he’s just down to earth, but he’s focused on the game and just very real and humble with who he is. We both probably matured in a lot of ways and stayed immature in some ways. But it’s been fun to grow up together as Blackhawks.”
There has been plenty of chatter over what feels like the past two years about what the futures for Toews and Kane looked like.
With the Blackhawks Captain missing all of the 2021 season, the potential to contemplate retirement crept-in. With the team going through a deconstruction and a rebuilding process that began this past offseason leading into the 2022-23 regular season, both have endured some terrible hockey that each of them hasn’t had to do, ever, in their professional careers.
Both are on expiring contracts and both have to make a decision about what they want to do with the rest of their careers in the NHL at some point this season.
For now, those decisions aren’t coming before the new year.
Sunday night will be about celebrating this Blackhawks duo that is as synonymous with the organization as the names of Mikita and Hull. In a season where there has been so little to cheer for, Kane and Toews will have their legacies honored at home as their milestone-ladened careers adds another to the list.