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Kane, Toews reflect on 1,000 NHL games together


Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will play their 1,000th career NHL game together when the Blackhawks host the New York Rangers at the United Center on Sunday. They will become the 10th set of teammates in NHL history to do so.

Sometimes, it feels like yesterday that the two broke into the league and helped restore hockey in Chicago. Other times, Kane jokes, it feels like it's been 2,000 games.

"It’s been pretty amazing," Kane said. "I mean, 1,000 games, that’s a lot of games together. It's been a good ride. Obviously we came in together as rookies and, at least for me, anyway, I really leaned on him to what he was going through. We roomed together for five or six years, a couple of battles in there, but mostly good times and just kind of came up and grew up together.

"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."

From Day 1, Kane and Toews have been attached to the hip. Sixteen years later, that hasn't changed too much.

"There's definitely moments where it was an old married couple, especially when we played on the same line quite a bit," Toews said. "There's that healthy competitiveness we had towards each other but at the same time we made each other a lot better and we helped each other on the ice."

It's funny to see how different Kane and Toews are now compared to who they were as rookies. It's almost like their demeanors and personalities have rubbed off on each other and flip-flopped as they've gotten older.

"I think he was a lot more serious in his first few years," Kane said. "He still has that serious element to him but I don’t think he takes himself as serious now. He’s able to laugh at himself a little bit."

"There were moments where I was envious of his confidence and wasn't sure where he got it from sometimes," a smiling Toews said of Kane. "He was one of those guys, he had a lot of confidence in his game and who he was off the ice as well, but I think now he's — believe it or not — just down to earth, but he's focused on the game and just very real and very humble with who he is. I think we both probably matured in a lot of ways and stayed immature in some ways I'm sure, but it's been fun to grow up together as Blackhawks."

Whether they knew it at the time or not, there was a ton of hype around Kane and Toews when they broke into the league together. Fans came out of the woodwork because there was cautious optimism that they would make the Blackhawks relevant again.

Kane and Toews never felt that pressure though.

"We just came in, I guess I can speak for myself, I was really naive in a lot of ways and I think that's what gives you as much as confidence as you have at that age, you're kind of brash and a little bit full of yourself but you kind of have to have that to believe you can play at this level and to have an impact early in your career the way the two of us did," Toews said. "And given the fact where the organization was and having a coach like Denis Savard, we got a lot of opportunities to just go out there and grow at our own pace as players.

"At the same time, we had a pretty good team around us that didn't take us long to have success. But as far as pressure, I don't know, I don't think we were aware of much pressure and I don't think the city of Chicago was aware of the Blackhawks the way they are now, so it was a totally different scenario than where we're at right now."

Said Kane: "We were just too young and stupid to know any better, to be honest with you. I think we were just excited to play hockey and try to help the team as much as possible. It obviously got exciting when the building started filling up and we started winning games, even toward the end of my rookie season and kind of making a push to the playoffs.

"The next year, the city was just on fire and all about the Blackhawks and it was really fun to grow up that way. Obviously we were very fortunate to come to Chicago, a great sports city, an organization like the Blackhawks that’s been run so well over the years. It’s been great."

Let's just say Kane and Toews lived up to the expectations and then some, with their journey highlighted by three Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy for both of them. It's only a matter of time before the Blackhawks build statues outside the United Center for them.

"I guess moments where you think of memories or you see a clip from years past and it looks like it's from another era almost, but at the same time, it's almost Christmas already and it's another year where it's flying by," Toews said. "That's the thing, you have to try and slow things down and appreciate and not take things for granted even though you're so much in a rhythm.

"But at the same time, it's been pretty special to share the ride and be a Blackhawk for as long as I have and have done it with Kaner the whole time. It's been pretty special and we're both pretty thankful for everything that's happened."

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