Consider today the official last day of summer, even though the calendar and all those pagans and wiccans will have you believe that it's coming on the 21st.
That's right, True Believers, training camp officially opens tomorrow, signifying the start of a new season- hockey season.
And on the eve of such an annual milepost, it seems fitting that we address a question regarding this past summer, asked similarly by Katherine215 and HawkVision respectively:
Do you think Kane will have any ill effects from his summer of sin and will he reach 100 points?
Kane’s points, over/under 90? I think we all know Toews will never stop wanting to improve and collect Cups, but will Kane possibly let up juuuuuuuuust a bit, considering he shut up a lot of his naysayers already, by winning a Cup and leading US players in scoring? I ask that, because it was mentioned that Kane will use what happened last offseason, and the subsequent trash talk about him, as motivation to get bigger/faster and kick dicks in…which he did. So, will he improve/level off/regress a touch, this season?
So, since about 11:15PM EDT on June 9th, it's been pretty widely reported that Patrick Kane has been doing nothing but getting drunk and fucking bitches, and honestly, more power to him. The common response to this has been been a Writ of Boys Will Be Boys, as nearly no one can find fault in these actions due to him being 21, a zillionaire, and at the absolute height of his professional career to this point.
But at some point, it's time to calm down and get back to work, and it's been a concern since about mid July that Kaner would show up to Johnny's (or the UC) hung the fuck over and out of shape tomorrow, ill-prepared for the upcoming season. Yes, you did just read that on this blog.
Sam and I have discussed this a fair amount over the summer, and basically, we've determined that it's not a problem until it is, if that makes any sense. We're willing to give Kaner the benefit of the doubt on this one, because we're generous like that, and if there was ever a time or a reason to indulge, this is it.
But on the flip side of that same coin, the Hawks have infamously lost a fair amount of the offensive depth that allowed them to capture the Stanley Cup for the first time in damn near fifty years; something which everyone was aware of, particularly the players. The players themselves have even acknowledged it at points throughout the off season, so they should be no doubt aware that the top six forwards are going to be more heavily relied upon for scoring output- none more so than Patrick Kane.
Despite the bellowing from the 300 level, Kane has made tremendous leaps from year to year thus far in his professional career. In his second season, the freshly-papered Joel Quenneville actually got him somewhat interested in hockey played behind his own blue line, and last year, Kane showed up in peak physical condition, stronger than ever on his skates and on the puck. As was a frequent mantra of ours last year, the puck didn't leave his tape until he damn well ready he decided it was time for it to. All of this is fueled by one of the most easily observable qualities about our beloved Kaner- the desire to prove people wrong. The fact of the matter is that the kid flat out gets off on doing exactly what you told him he couldn't do (along with the arrogance to believe he can), as well as scoring goals that absolutely rip your fucking heart out. If he's walking funny, it's for one or two reasons- either he's shit hammered, or it's because his balls are that goddamn huge.
So it's with that knowledge and observable track record that I'm here to tell you that a significant dropoff in point production this season seems highly unlikely for Kane. While yes, we did see and hear a lot about him broing down hardcore all summer long, it's because that stuff sells well. Hell, we even play it up here. But I'm confident that while there wasn't much publicized about it, he was diligent in his off season training regiment away from the cell phone snapshots, fully aware of what he's being counted on to provide this year. It also wouldn't shock me in the least if he was also aware of open speculation such as this regarding his dedication in the face of all the boozing, and is now desirous of stuffing it up anyone's ass who thought he couldn't be in an alcoholic haze for four months and still be an elite hockey player. And if there's any age that anybody can pull that off, it's 21.
The key to increasing Kaner's production is improving the power play as a whole, which I touched on earlier in the week. Kane had 9 goals and 20 helpers on the advantage last year, but that doesn't seem like it should be enough, based on the eye test. And this year, with the roster thinned out a bit, it's imperative that the power play be a "plus" unit rather than just middling as it was last year, as the team will need to convert on as many chances as humanly possible to replace some of the scoring that has exited from the likes of Versteeg, Byfuglien, etc. Additionally, as was stated before, it seems as though the "core" forwards are very aware that with great power comes great responsibility, so they'll be counted on to maybe just give a little bump across the board in offensive production. For Kane, this should mean putting more shots on net. No, not attempted shots or scoring chances- he created enough of those last year. But one of my own personal frustrations with Kane until later in the playoffs was his seemingly unflinching need to always shoot the puck high and tuck it under the crossbar, simply because it looks bad ass. Yes, Kaner, it does look bad ass, but it also causes you to miss the net more frequently than should be acceptable, and shots on net lead to rebounds and second chance opportunities, which when converted at a decent percentage, lead to goals and an increase in scoring. Kane seemed to start to figure that out as the post season progressed, as evidenced by his back breaker in game 6 against Borat's bunch, the breakaway goal under Leighton's arm in game 3 against Philly, and oh yeah, this little goal too.
So, to both Katherine and HawkVision, as well as everyone else, I hope that this has at least allayed a little bit of your trepidation regarding Kaner's summer. Of course, all of this will be shot to shit the first time he slacks on a backcheck that leads to a Scum goal, but for right now, let's take a wait and see approach, as there is enough evidence to support the theory that he will be in shape and ready to rock come....well, tomorrow. Fuck. Yes.
Hockey season starts tomorrow. Strap in, motherfuckers.
As an added bonus, because of my aforementioned generosity, here's a fun little jam in honor of Kaner's summer, just because it's Friday.
Atmosphere - National Disgrace (via AspiringPsychopath)