Patrick Kane: Character vs. Ability

Jonathan Willis
May 14 2012 05:43PM

Patrick Kane is a pretty good hockey player. Very few people deny this.

Kane does have a penchant for getting into trouble – he got arrested in Buffalo after an incident with a cab driver, and the last week has featured a lot of fun pictures from a drunken weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.

What do the Blackhawks do about this combination?

Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune has a blog post up today where he lists a bunch of reasons to trade Patrick Kane. It’s a shotgun approach and some of the auxiliary reasons offered are beyond weak (more on that in a moment) but the central thrust is that Kane’s an embarrassment to the organization and needs to go.

Before getting into the central point I couldn’t resist commenting on this:

Kane’s teammates know he scores big goals. Well, he USED TO score big goals. Since Kane scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 2010, he has scored exactly one goal in 13 playoff games. For those of you keeping score at home, that would be as many goals as embarrassing Cinco de Mayo pictorials. You don’t think Kane’s teammates are looking at each other and wondering how a guy gets so much money when he’s not a money player?

Between 2008-10, Kane (who on average picks up roughly two assists for every goal he scores) scored 19 times and added 22 assists for 41 points in 38 playoff games. In his last 13 games he has one goal on 38 shots and nine assists (for those of you keeping score at home, that’s 10 points total - two points more than Jonathan Toews). The goal drought is *clearly* a shooting percentage slump. By ignoring the fact that even without goals Kane’s been a near-point per game player the last two post-seasons, the author is *clearly* more interested in axe-grinding than he is in accuracy.

Anyway, on to the central point.

The last time there was this much demand that Kane be traded, it was at around the same time he plead guilty to noncriminal disorderly conduct charges related to that incident with the cabbie. That was in the summer of 2009. In the summer of 2010, Kane would hoist the cup after picking up 28 points in the Blackhawks’ playoff run.

Kane can help a team win it all as a feature scorer. He did it just two seasons ago. Pretending he’s a garbage player is an exercise in self-delusion. He isn’t.

Trading Patrick Kane will hurt the Chicago Blackhawks. The only reason to do it is if his frat boy antics have the team simply too embarrassed to keep him on it. From an organizational standpoint, maybe there’s merit to that. From a hockey standpoint, it’s a just plain bad decision.

It's all part of the same package - his ability as a hockey player and his character off the ice.  In a perfect world, the two would come together; often, however, they don't.  If forced to choose, a team built on the former is typically going to trump a team built on the latter.   

That's probably why Rosenbloom goes to pains to build a case against Kane's ability.  Unfortunately for him, there isn't really a case to be made.  Kane's blessed with athletic gifts, and cursed with immaturity.  The first one matters far more than the second.

Could Kane be a distraction? Absolutely. But then, the same question was asked in the summer of 2009 and everyone saw how that turned out.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 DieHard
May 14 2012, 06:38PM
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Interesting but I wouldn't want him here

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#2 Dan the Man
May 14 2012, 07:12PM
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I wonder what kind of stories and photos of the boys on the bus we would have seen if the Internet and social media were around back in the eighties?

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#3 Saytalk
May 14 2012, 07:24PM
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At a $6.3M cap hit, the expectations are high for any player, not just in terms of scoring, but also in back-checking, winning faceoffs, matching up against the opponent's top players, playing a physical game, demonstrating leadership on and off the ice, etc., etc.

Considering the Blackhawks current and future cap problems, and also considering Kane's somewhat one-dimensional game and his off-ice issues, and assuming the Blackhawks would get some pretty good assets in return, I think trading him would improve their team.

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#4 Ted Sheckler
May 14 2012, 07:46PM
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Oh my god a 23 year old got drunk and acted like an ass?!!!! I can't believe it, whats the world coming to? The people shouldn't demand a trade it should be the death penalty! Looks like a combination scape goat/slow news day in Chicago.And re: the cabbie incident . Who hasnt wanted to deck a cabbie who shortchanged you?

Dan the man: sports illustrated wrote a wonderful article about some of the 80's good times. My favorite explanation was Gretzky's "layered shots" story (straws in the cup) followed by Grant Fuhr hiatus.

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#5 stevezie
May 14 2012, 07:51PM
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Great article Jonathan, and as long as I'm complimenting you I thought you nailed Dale Hunter on Grantland too.

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#6 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
May 14 2012, 08:15PM
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I'd take a chance on that kid. I'd wait a couple more years for his value to deminish, but once that kid finds a wife and settles down, he could start seeing the bigger picture.

When he starts having to work harder to keep what he takes for granted now, he'll have a new appreciation/attitude/grows up i'm sure.

If i was Kevin Lowe i'd keep an eye on Patrick Kane. He could be the comeback player of the year in 2015.

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#7 DSF
May 14 2012, 08:52PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

I wonder what kind of stories and photos of the boys on the bus we would have seen if the Internet and social media were around back in the eighties?

Spent some time with the Boys back in the day.

If there had been cell phone cams back then...our view of all of them would be completely different.

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#8 Oilers4ever
May 14 2012, 09:03PM
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Well put Dan The Man... People who say they would not want Kane on their team are friggin nuts. If you think the Oilers in their hey-days didn't have drunken fests and everything else you are sadly mistaken. There just was no social media back then, so no way to widely publish it. We all know Grant had a cocaine habit for a bit. God knows what else happens. To say you would not want Kane just because he likes to party is assinine. Its about improving the team. Chicago won't trade him though, not yet anyways.

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#9 Muji 狗
May 14 2012, 09:05PM
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I'm sure there are many players as douche-y as Kane, but they seem to cover their tracks better. Kane is either too stupid to or doesn't care to (which is inconsiderate to his team/league imo).

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#10 godot10
May 14 2012, 09:43PM
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Kane played hard and paid the price before he got his big contract. Not so much after he got his big contract.

Like with cockroaches, there is never only one character flaw for guys with poor character.

A punk is always a punk.

Trade him to Buffalo for Ryan Miller.

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#11 godot10
May 14 2012, 09:43PM
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Kane played hard and paid the price before he got his big contract. Not so much after he got his big contract.

Like with cockroaches, there is never only one character flaw for guys with poor character.

A punk is always a punk.

Trade him to Buffalo for Ryan Miller.

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#12 dsr
May 15 2012, 02:29AM
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Not that I care what twenty year olds do when out on the town, but Taylor Hall has earned a reputation in Kingston. A couple drunken altercations at local nightclubs. Being a bad drunk isn't a rare trait, especially among young men.

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#13 cpp
May 15 2012, 04:00AM
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If people don't think our beloved Oilers aren't doing this kind of stuff you are out of your minds. I've seen much worse on many occasions.

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#14 Ben Eager feasts on the souls of Canucks
May 15 2012, 07:57AM
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DSF wrote:

Spent some time with the Boys back in the day.

If there had been cell phone cams back then...our view of all of them would be completely different.

Haha, of course you did. I suppose you also eat cake for dinner and your best friend is a dinosaur.

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#15 DieHard
May 15 2012, 08:39AM
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Oilers4ever wrote:

Well put Dan The Man... People who say they would not want Kane on their team are friggin nuts. If you think the Oilers in their hey-days didn't have drunken fests and everything else you are sadly mistaken. There just was no social media back then, so no way to widely publish it. We all know Grant had a cocaine habit for a bit. God knows what else happens. To say you would not want Kane just because he likes to party is assinine. Its about improving the team. Chicago won't trade him though, not yet anyways.

Kane lost me with the Cabbie incident.

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#16 Infinibuild
May 15 2012, 10:02AM
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Ben Eager feasts on the souls of Canucks wrote:

Haha, of course you did. I suppose you also eat cake for dinner and your best friend is a dinosaur.

Haha.... Great stuff.

Now I know why DSF knows everything, its because he is personal buddies with the 80s Oilers. Makes sense now.

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#17 Truth
May 15 2012, 10:30AM
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If Kane, partying like a college kid at a college age at a college in the off-season, is going to influence Chicago to trade him at a discounted rate I'd be all over that. I realize he is a pro athlete who is supposed to be a role model, but if there's a time and a place to let loose that's it. They are hockey players after all.

Kane is a hell of a hockey player. Maybe since everybody thinks centermen are more valuable than wingers the Oil can trade Kane's old buddy Sam Gagner for him...

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#18 Spydyr
May 15 2012, 12:18PM
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Trade him straight up for Gagner.Then winning that game with Calgary that meant nothing will be repaid by the hockey gods.

Well the Game meant something Oilers got Gagner Chicago got Kane.

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#19 dawgbone98
May 15 2012, 02:40PM
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@Spydyr

Oilers finished with 71 points, Chicago with 68... even if the Oilers lost the standings would have been the same.

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#20 Milli
May 16 2012, 04:45PM
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Ya, follow me with a camera today and see what you might get! I can't imagine being 23, rich, NHL star and what I would do!!! It amazes me these kids are as poised as they are.

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