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.