It's a formula as old as time.
On one side, you have the straight arrow, all stoic and proper, doing it right and doing it well, by the book, the way it's always been done. Best guy on the force. Trusted leader. Occasionally criticized for being humorless, sure, but he's got a job to do, that's why, he's got no time for shenanigans.
On the other side, you have the lovable goof, all flash and sizzle, a dash of class clown, doing this his way, having fun and looking good doing it, freestyling, a little crazy, stumbling into the occasional "hand over your badge moment". Wisecracks, jokes, wry smiles. Adventure.
And then they get paired together, and despite their differences, it just works. It's the formula that's been keeping the comedy genre alive for ages.
And for the last seven years, it's been the driving force between the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane became the identity of the Hawks the moment they arrived on the scene at 18-year-olds. They turned the franchise around almost overnight. Seven years on, the Hawks wisely decided to re-up for another eight years, and on Wednesday, the club reintroduced its star tandem, with their new, matching $84 million contracts, to the media.
Rarely will you see a group of businessmen so pleased to sign away $168 million dollars. But the Blackhawks' brass couldn't have been happier. President & CEO John McDonough called the pair "two symbols of the renaissance of the Chicago Blackhawks," and he's right. So long as these two are in the picture, together, the Blackhawks are relevant.
Not just on the ice, either. Kane and Toews have become, in his words, "a very respected brand in the National Hockey league and throughout sports." You don't want to lose that.
Of course the team locked them up to identical contracts. They're as much a package deal as Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
But unlike the Canucks' duo, Kane and Toews are pretty easy to tell apart. It's just tough to know who's first.
"I don't know if it's Kane and Toews or it's Toews and Kane," McDonagh joked, "but I know it's powerful and it's really respected."
In a press conference in which almost every question was "for either of you guys", both Kane and Toews were asked why they chose to re-up as a pair, when one of them might have been able to command a higher salary.
Toews refused to take the bait.
"That's a debate for you guys, over who deserves more," he said.
But it's a debate both Kane and Toews are happy to fuel. Sure, they're friends, and they're willing to be billed as a package, but make no mistake, these are two very powerful egos, and occasionally, their bids to be the best are going to clash. Fortunately for the Blackhawks, it's worked to everyone's advantage. Two Stanley Cups in seven years. More to come, if all goes well.
"I think we have a friendly competition that, as long as we're together, that competition's gonna keep getting greater and greater," Kane said.
That's why you give them the same deal. That's why you hold onto them both. Each is the other's insurance policy. Neither of these guys wants to be the one that didn't live up to this contract, and each wants to be the Lewis to the other guy's Clark, the Turner to the other guy's Hooch.
"Both of us can promise that we're gonna try to get better and better as long as we're here," Kane said.
There are questions, of course. The Blackhawks are now working around these deals for the foreseeable future, trying to find ways to complement their core stars within the cap world, and build the sort of complete team you need to win the Stanley Cup. The LA Kings edged the Blackhawks last season due to their depth, and the Blackhawks' two Cup wins were driven as much by the guys behind Kane and Toews as Kane and Toews themselves.
But these are questions for tomorrow. Wednesday was about Kane and Toews, and their renewal of vows with one another, and the Blackhawks organization. It was sweet ceremony, and everyone had something to say about the relationship.
"Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane," announcer John Wiedeman gushed. "They go together like words and music."
- Jonathan Toews
- Patrick Kane
- Chicago Blackhawks