9:26 AM CST, February 11, 2013
Friendly and thoughtful Twitter followers and emailers have been wondering where I’ve been while Patrick Kane has gotten off to the best start of his career.
The answer is, the same place they’ve been: Watching Kane get off to the best start of his career.
Watching Kane do what he was supposed to do, which always was a lot more than he had been doing.
See, they think I hate Kane. Nope, I like the guy and I like a lot of his game, but I thought there was a lot more to his game that we weren’t seeing because he didn’t seem particularly motivated to reach.
To recap what I’d written, Kane can skate, handle the puck spectacularly and has a knack for scoring big goals. But he hadn’t scored more than 30 goals in a season, and he did that only once (2009-10). He wasn’t even close to the elite snipers, and then he wasn’t anything in the last two postseasons when stars have to play like stars and Kane was playing like John Scott.
The Blackhawks endured another first-round playoff exit as Kane failed to score a goal. Heck, he couldn’t manage so much as a second assist by the end of the series against Phoenix. The previous spring, he managed one goal in seven games against Vancouver. One goal in 13 games over two postseasons is a bigger joke that people telling me how elite Kane is.
As a result, I said the Hawks should look into trading Kane. Not flat trade him. Not trade him just to trade him. Not trade him for Steve Ott, as suggested by one friendly Twitter follower who is happily unburdened by lucid thought.
No, what I said was the Hawks’ organ-I-zation had to at least consider whether Kane would bring back a No. 2 center who would make the team better. A general manager who failed to investigate that should be fired.
I also think the Hawks did that, especially after getting a look at those Internet photos of Kane’s drinking episode in Madison, Wis.
How could you watch his useless postseason, then see those pitctures, and not question his focus or commitment? Connect the dots, people.
And now Kane is off to the best start of his career, and people want to rag me about how wrong I was.
Well, no. Nice try, but what the friendly Twitter followers and emailers don’t realize is that Kane has made my point.
There indeed was more to his game. More dominance. More brilliance. More jaw-dropping skill. And Kane knew it, even if my friendly emailers and Twitter followers didn’t. All I can say it, it's a good thing I'm so smart.
My friendly emailers and Twitter followers should’ve expected this. They didn’t. They settled. They would rather defend Kane than demand that he play better.
I don’t know where Kane’s sudden, uncharacteristic motivation came from, but I think we can manage a good guess. After Kane celebrated Cinco De Facedown Day, he probably had some kind of come-to-Jesus talk with general manager Stan Bowman or president John McDonough. Maybe Kane got the whole bunch of them.
Or maybe it was just Kane and Stan’s daddy. Hoo boy, that would be a show. McDonough would’ve demanded that Comcast SportsNet air it. The merciless Scotty Bowman is nobody’s friend when it comes to winning. If you’re not his idea of great, then you’re gone. See Dale Tallon and Denis Savard for details.
If one of those scenarios played out, you can bet your mouthpiece that somebody or everybody threatened to trade Kane to some godforsaken city, or worse, Winnipeg. If you don’t think that was hanging over Kane’s hungover head, then you don’t know the NHL.
It’s possible that Kane might’ve had an epiphany on his own. He might’ve matured naturally. Yes, and Brandon Bollig will be up first in the Hawks’ next shootout.
Whatever, Kane has proceeded to show off his wondrous talents. He’s dangerous on most shifts, his passing is terrific, and he’s making the right decision on shooting and passing.
After potting a goal against Nashville on Sunday that recalled his Stanley Cup overtime winner, Kane has goals in five straight games. He scored seven during the six-game road trip on which the Hawks picked up a stunning 10 of 12 points.
Kane still makes some bad turnovers, but invariably redeems himself by making a bigger play. He has been a big reason the Hawks are atop the standings. He should be, after all.
Kane says he has refocused. He appears single-minded, and it seems that goal is all about hockey.
He’s one of the centerpieces of this organ-I-zation. He has to produce like it, and he has.
Again, this is what he’s supposed to do. This was my point. I hope he continues. No, wait, I hope he becomes even better. I hope he makes himself untradeable.
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