Patrick Kane and New Expectations

USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Kane came through with a brilliant 2013 season, which means that the pressure is on him to be even greater this year.

Ah yes, Patrick Kane. The lightning rod of the Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn't long ago that even fans in Chicago were clamoring for him to be sent to his hometown of Buffalo for Ryan Miller. We all know about that. At this point, though, it's probably safe to say that anyone still crying for such a scenario has either realized their faults and amended that opinion, or has been forced into hiding.

Regardless, the 2013 season of Patrick Kane really was something. He was coming off of a 2011-12 campaign that was disappointing, at least by his standards. Worse yet, the dark cloud of a question about his maturity was still hanging over his head. Then came that trip to Switzerland.

Despite gaining some attention for bringing his mother along for the ride, it's pretty clear that the stint across the Atlantic during the lockout did Patrick Kane some good. He came back to the Hawks with a renewed focus and a maturity and awareness of himself that we had not yet seen from the star forward.

That renewed focus and maturity translated to success on the ice. Kane led the offensive attack for the Blackhawks, as they went wire to wire as the best team in hockey. Through the point streak to start the year, the Presidents Trophy buzz, and right up until Jonathan Toews hoisted the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons, Patrick Kane was right in the middle of it all.

Which means something heading into this new 2013-14 season. It means new expectations for Kane, who should have been a Hart Trophy candidate and ended up taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It means that the meatballs are going to be all over him, and probably cry "hangover!" when he has an off night. It means that anything less than a point per game is not going to be acceptable. It means that any "dirty dangles" or "spin-o-rama" goals/assists are going to be looked at as the norm.

Much of that is hyperbole, of course. Every glorious maneuver Patrick Kane performs with the puck on his stick is something special, no matter how many times we see it. The point is, that Patrick Kane came into the 2011-12 season with lower expectations and some actually questioning his future with the team.

That isn't the case anymore. Patrick Kane has taken back his superstar status. And from everything he's said, he's ready to take his game to even higher levels.

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