The Blackhawks officially kicked off training camp on Wednesday at Fifth Third Arena ahead of the 2022-23 NHL season, with general manager Kyle Davidson and head coach Luke Richardson speaking to the media before Thursday's first on-ice session.
And as you can imagine, there were lots of questions about the futures of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Rightfully so, given the state of the organization and the two franchise icons going into the final year of their contracts.
Kane's name specifically popped up in the rumor mill over the summer, but Davidson put to rest any potential trade dialogue that might have been happening behind the scenes.
"There haven't been any conversations," Davidson said. "We're certainly not at that point. We're focused on training camp and getting into the season. As far as any player movement or anything like that, we're not anywhere near that point. We're focused on Jonathan and Patrick being here and being part of the team and competing right from the opening day. That's what we're focused on. There's been no discussion on that."
Davidson has acknowledged in the past that "there's definitely a place" for Kane and Toews during Chicago's rebuild, but it's hard to see a path where both of them want to be here for the long haul if the competitive timeline is closer to five years than two or three.
Davidson said he hasn't "gone down that road" yet of thinking about the possibility that he may eventually trade one or both of them during the season.
"We didn't have any intentions on making any of those moves and they didn't have any intentions on going anywhere," Davidson said. "We were both mutually focused on the season. So if it comes to that at some point, we'll cross that bridge when we get there, but we're certainly not there right now."
From a coaching standpoint, Richardson said he's talked to Kane and Toews "probably the most" of any players on the roster as he prepares for his first season as a NHL bench boss. He's trying to create the right culture, and Kane and Toews leading the charge is a crucial element of laying that foundation.
"They seem great," Richardson said. "I know they probably have some questions and some wonder and that’s all of us, right? I think there’s a lot of new, young players coming in and we want to make sure we’re building something and we talk to them about that and they seem on page and they want to be a part of this right now at the start, anyways. So, that’s all we can ask from the players.
"They look like they’ve come in and prepared and are ready and have smiles on their faces, they’re not walking around grumpy and unhappy. But they’re competitive. You can understand they want to be competitive and win and that’s what we want, so we express that we understand that and we like that because that’s going to be the feeling around the room. We want the young players to learn off them and learn how to be competitive and win in this league."