As Patrick Kane plugs along at an almost point per game pace, he continues to catch flak from Hawks fans and the media alike for his off ice activity. Today, on Deadspin.com, more pictures of Kane out a bar have come to light, and the pictures are most assuredly Kane. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem as Kane is of legal drinking age and doing nothing specifically wrong in the pictures other than perhaps looking like an idiot. The problem arises from the fact that the pictures were supposedly taken Sunday night. Kane then missed the following two days of practice and failed to post a point on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks reported that Kane missed the practices due to the flu, which has been passed around the team striking Marian Hossa, Jake Dowell, and John Scott.
The Chicago media has jumped on this Deadspin report and several fans have followed right along with them in suspecting that Kane had partied himself into a 72 hour hangover. That theory is unfair. Yes, Kane’s off ice exploits have often found their way to the web, and sure he is a notorious party boy. That doesn’t however mean it is acceptable for people who have probably never met the man to assume that he has a problem. Even IF the pictures were actually taken on Sunday night, that doesn’t mean that Kane didn’t actually get sick as well. Also considering the frequency with which Kane is purported to go out drinking do you really think that he would then still get 3 day hangovers? The reality of the situation is probably more along the lines of bad timing, Kane went out Sunday and then fell pray to an illness that was going around the locker room.
What is frustrating for Blackhawks fans and hockey observers in general is that Kane could be so much better. His lifestyle is seen as preventing him from reaching his full potential as a player. Kane’s 276 points in 292 games is a pretty good start to his career, but next to Jonathan Toews (who no one knew could even smile until after game 6 last season) Kane’s perceived lack of seriousness makes him appear to not care. This attitude, combined with the teams struggles, has lead to an increasing number of people calling for Kane to be traded. This, just as assuming that Kane is an alcoholic, would be a bad idea.
Kane is still one of the most dynamic players in the NHL when he has the puck on his stick. His passing ability is top five in the league, he has made Patrick Sharp a lot of money working together on the power play. Kane’s shot is also underrated, and if he ever decided to shoot more and pass less I think he could put up 40+ goals a year. Watch him on the rush, he almost always pulls up and looks to pass, if he took the puck to the net more often his goal totals would increase. Due in part to his size Kane will never be a shutdown player in his own zone but since the start of last season he has shown a willingness and an ability to back check and has 40 takeaways in 48 games this year. Kane may not be the perfect player, or certainly not the perfect person; but he is a pretty good hockey player. Whatever his choices off the ice as long as he isn’t hurting anyone or breaking the law, those choices are between Kane and his teammates.