9:24 AM CST, January 7, 2013
Now, where was I before Gary Bettman unanimously captured the “Moron of the Millenium’’ championship?
Oh yeah, Patrick Kane, second-line center. And Patrick Kane, trade bait.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman contends that Kane can play center behind Jonathan Toews, and I’m thinking, Bowman is either trying to get coach Joel Quenneville fired or he has a plan to “clownsize’’ the organ-I-zation.
This is Lovie Smith saying, “Kellen Davis can do the things all the good tight ends can do.’’ We all know he can’t and he has shown us. Ditto Kane.
Look, if Kane could do the things all the good centers can do, then the Hawks never would’ve moved him back to wing.
Bowman’s season-long inability to deliver a No. 2 center marked his greatest failure. Still stands, by thr way. Bowman gave his team no chance to win the Stanley Cup. He forced Quenneville to stick wingers and inadequate centers in the middle, most notably Kane.
That worked sporadically during the regular season, which isn’t enough for championship teams. It didn’t work in the playoffs, but it sounds like Bowman locked himself out early and missed the postseason completely.
Kane had one playoff goal more than you or me. That’s as many postseason goals as Coyotes criminal Raffi Torres.
Kane’s total averages out to about $10 million per postseason goal in the 13 games since he snapped a puck into Hawks history. That was in 2010. Hel-LO.
If Bowman was going to abdicate responsibility in adding a No. 2 center, then he at least could’ve brought in a top-six winger.
But no. He didn’t do that, either. Psst, here’s the plan: Everybody tell Bowman that the league is still locked out and he can check back in July.
I’m bringing up this issue not just because Bowman failed as badly as Kane, but because their continued failures likely will become acutely painful in this post-lockout world.
The 50- or 48-game schedule will be condensed similar to the 2009-10 Olympic-interrupted season when teams were forced to play bunches of games with one day off, then do it again. Those demands placed a premium on roster depth, and nobody had more than the Hawks. That’s how they won the Stanley Cup.
But the salary-cap world championed by the late Billfold Wirtz cost the Hawks that valuable depth, and they haven’t won a playoff series since.
Bowman’s inability to restore that depth could level the Hawks significantly in this kind of season. That lack of depth starts at center, which is the most important forward position. That lack of depth extends to the top-six forwards, but the Hawks can’t count to six. Worse, two of the Hawks’ best players, Toews and Marian Hossa, are coming back from concussions.
Which means they are merely between concussions. Which will place a premium at center depth. Which will highlight Kane’s shortcomings.
Toews is phenomenal on faceoffs. Kane isn’t. Toews and Hossa kill penalties. Kane can’t. Toews and Hossa can work the middle of the ice as well as the boards. Kane can’t.
Condensed seasons create some sloppy play. Mistakes come from fatigue. Special teams become vital. If Toews or Hossa suffers a concussion again -- and I think it’s unavoidable for at least one of them -- then the Hawks’ penalty killing could cost them games. The lack of total top-end talent could cost them a playoff spot.
That’s why you have to think about trading Kane.
I know he has wondrous puck skills at times, and I know he is a fan favorite. This has nothing to do with the face of the franchise laying face-down on a bar. This has everything to do with making the team better by getting a quality player at a more important position.
The angry post-lockout environment could be a great time to deal him, too. Hawks fans will show up because they’re Hawks fans. But coming off an inexplicable work stoppage engineered by lobotomized NHL muckamucks, teams in other cities might need to sweeten the season to convince ticket buyers to, well, buy tickets again, and those teams might be willing to sacrifice a two-way center.
The Islanders are bad and always will be until they’re folded. Maybe they’re willing to swap Kane for John Tavares. I doubt it, but I’d call.
Maybe the Sharks think Joe Pavelski is expendable because of Logan Couture. Probably not, but I’d call San Jose, too.
And Carolina. Is Eric Staal available? Want to market the team as the HurriKanes?
Point is, there are a lot of centers who are better than Kane but they might be available because they don’t have Kane’s flash.
Kane is exactly that kind of pretty, shiny thing that other teams could market to fans who might not realize that the only category Kane ranked among the top 10 last season was overrated. And maybe overserved.
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