Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each has agreed to an eight-year contract extension with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team announced Wednesday.
The contracts are worth $10.5 million each per season, according to multiple reports. At this point those contracts would have the highest average annual value in the NHL when they begin in 2015-16.
Toews and Kane were set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2014-15 season but now are under contract through 2022-23.
"I could not be more grateful for the amazing moments and opportunities I've been given by the Chicago Blackhawks," Toews said in a statement. "There's no organization in sports that cares more about the overall experience of their fans and the success of their players. To have the chance to continue with this amazing group of teammates and people throughout the organization is an incredible honor. There's nothing we want more as players than to continue to win Stanley Cups for the best hockey fans on the planet."
Toews, 26, was the third pick of the 2006 NHL Draft, and a year later the Blackhawks picked Kane, 25, with the first pick of the 2007 draft. They arrived in Chicago together at the start of the 2007-08 season and have helped lead a hockey renaissance in Chicago. They have won the Stanley Cup twice and reached the Western Conference Final in two other postseasons.
When they joined the Blackhawks, Chicago had not reached the Stanley Cup Final since 1992 and had not won a championship since 1961. According to ESPN.com, the Blackhawks were 29th in attendance in 2006-07, with fewer than 13,000 fans per game at United Center.
The "Madhouse on Madison" has been transformed during the Toews and Kane era, becoming one of the League's most electric atmospheres with a lengthy sellout streak that continues to swell.
"It's great to be able to continue my career in Chicago," Kane said in a statement. "Playing with the best organization in sports and the best fans in the game is a blessing. Since I was drafted by the Blackhawks, the people of Chicago have really embraced me and treated me with nothing but respect. I look forward to many more years of success with the Blackhawks."
The Blackhawks were one goal from reaching the Cup Final for the third time in five seasons in 2014, but the Los Angeles Kings defeated them in overtime of Game 7 at United Center in the Western Conference Final. With nearly the entire roster in place and the addition of center Brad Richards, the Blackhawks are expected to be top contenders for the Cup again in 2014-15.
Securing the long-term futures of Toews and Kane were the top priority this offseason for the Blackhawks. Chicago will continue to be expected to contend for championships with these two superstars in tow and a great collection of talent around them.
Center - CHI
GOALS: 28 | ASST: 40 | PTS: 68
SOG: 193 | +/-: 26
"Jonathan and Patrick have become cornerstones of this franchise during their time in Chicago," general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We are excited to ensure they will continue to lead our organization for years to come."
Toews was the youngest captain to lift the Stanley Cup when the Blackhawks ended a 39-year drought in 2010; he won the Conn Smythe Trophy that season. He also has been instrumental in helping Canada to back-to-back gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.
He won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2013 and was a finalist in 2014. He is mentioned consistently with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar in any discussion about the best players in the sport.
Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013 when the Blackhawks won the Cup for a second time. He won the Calder Trophy in 2007-08 and has been a durable, dynamic scorer for the Blackhawks in each of his seven seasons. He scored at least 21 goals in all seven and has topped 65 points six times.
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 29 | ASST: 40 | PTS: 69
SOG: 227 | +/-: 7
Each is among the top 20 in the League in points per game since starting his NHL career in 2007-08; Kane has 493 points in 515 career games, and Toews has 440 in 484 games.
Kane is the NHL's leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2008-09 season with 91 points in 93 games. Toews is fourth with 81 points in 94 games.
"When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization," Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. "There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago. We are excited for our future and proud that they will continue to be a part of that commitment and success for years to come."