CHICAGO – There weren’t a lot of questions at the start of his news conference focused on the players the Blackhawks have signed to open up free agency in 2022.
Frankly, it was mostly concerning the two players who have been fixtures of the franchise for the past 15 seasons: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Many wanted to know what they have to say about the flurry of moves made just the last week to kick the Blackhawks’ rebuild into high gear.
The players weren’t there on Thursday to answer those questions, but Kyle Davidson was, as the general manager confirmed that he met with both Kane and Toews this week That included the trading of Alex DeBricat to the Senators, Kirby Dach to the Canadiens, along with the decision to not give qualifying offers to Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome.
“It was healthy. Open communication, open dialogue, as it has been in the past,” said Davidson of the conversation with both players. “It was necessary, I felt, though it’s never easy losing a great player, great friends off your team.
“So it was important that we sat down with them.”
Right after, Davidson was asked if he got a sense that the players were “bought in” to the process of rebuilding, which significantly limits the chance of the team having on-ice success for at least a little while.
“I think that’s probably more of a question for them, but I felt the meeting went well. Open dialogue both ways and it was a healthy process,” said Davidson in response to the question.” They’re both here, chatting with them, and keeping that communication open.”
Based on comments from their agent on Wednesday, they will be for at least a bit. Pat Brisson, the agent for Kane, Toews, and Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones, told Pierre LeBrun that they’ll “Let the dust settle” before making any determination about possible future demands.
Kane and Toews are entering the final year of their contracts while Jones is only one year into a long-term, eight-year deal signed by previous general manager Stan Bowman. All of the players have no-trade clauses, so each would have to waive those in order to bring about a trade.
While there are many things that are in limbo in this rebuilding era, the fact remains that Kane and Toews are still members of the Blackhawks. At his news conference on Thursday, Davidson talked about the many attributes that the pair could bring to a team full of young players new to the NHL.
But would he be surprised if Kane or Toews asked for a trade?
“I think it’s really hard to handicap at this point because it’s all so fresh,” said Davidson in response to that question. “All of the draft just happened, a couple trades just happened, free agency was yesterday. So it’s pretty early in that process, so I don’t think I have a fully formed opinion one way or the other right now.”