The Chicago Blackhawks are off to a 9-0-2 start, the best in franchise history. There are many reasons for the fast start. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa are fully recovered from their concussions. Corey Crawford has bounced back from a bad sophomore season. The defensive unit has solidified with the improved play of Duncan Keith, Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson. But the biggest reason for the Blackhawks being the class of the NHL right now is the play of Patrick Kane. Since he arrived in Chicago during the fall of 2007 we have been waiting for Kane to make the jump from good player to elite. Well folks, that wait is over! 88 is taking his place among the true superstars of the game.
Dale Tallon used the first overall pick of the 2007 Entry Draft to select Patrick. Kaner was coming off an unbelievable season with the London Knights of OHL where he put up 145 points (62 G, 83 A) in 58 games. He was the biggest talent of the '07 draft class and has not been a disappointment by any means. Kane won the Calder Trophy in 2007-08 after he put up 72 points (21 G, 51 A) while playing in all 82 games of his rookie season. He has had many big moments in the Indian Head, but none bigger than scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in Philadelphia back in 2010. Coming into this season Kane has played in 399 regular season games and put up 369 points (126 G, 243 A) for a of 0.92 points per game average. Kane has always loved the spotlight and has shined in big games. His playoff numbers have been outstanding. He has 52 points (20 G, 32 A) in 51 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Every off season we have wondered when Kane is going to "grow up" and take that next step towards super stardom. We all know Kaner's off ice reputation and incidents all too well. For years we've heard jokes about shirtless limo rides, upstate New York cab drivers and Cinco De Mayo parties gone haywire. We have seen his defensive lapses and many nights where he has looked like his head and heart just aren't into the game. We have been hearing him say all the right things at the start of every training camp. I really think playing in Europe during the lockout was the best thing to ever happen to him. We have seen a more mature and focused Patrick Kane this year and I have to believe that his time in Switzerland has a lot to do with the results we've enjoyed this year.
Kane is currently near the top of many of the NHL's offensive categories. Only Buffalo's Thomas Vanek's 21 points is more than Kaner's 18. He is 3rd in goals with 8 and is only 3 assists behind the league leader Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay. Kane has a 1.64 points per game average right now. If he stays on this pace he will finish the 48 game season with 79 points ; 35 goals (career high) and 44 assists. If he does keep up his high level of play and keeps the Hawks atop the Western Conference he will be the favorite to bring home the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. We haven't seen this combination of skating skill, play making ability and goal scoring in Chicago since Denis Savard was in his prime. Patrick Kane is making that jump we have been waiting for and it is going to be well worth the wait!