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Patrick Kane and, perhaps, the best season in Blackhawks history

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It was the best season of Kane’s career, but how does it stand up in franchise history?

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

During the season he turned 30 years old, Patrick Kane played the best hockey of his career.

New career-highs were set in assists (66) and points (110), while Kane’s 44 goals were just two shy of the career-best hat trick. Kane averaged the most ice time in his career (22:29 per game) and he racked up 341 shots on goal — again the high mark of his 12 NHL seasons.

Only superlatives can properly describe what Kane did for the 2018-19 Blackhawks. He was their best player. He was the biggest reason that a season which appeared lost around Christmas nearly ended in a playoff berth.

There was some mild regression at the end, perhaps caused by the aforementioned workload assigned to Kane earlier in the season. But that doesn’t diminish the gaudy numbers Kane posted, which again placed Kane alongside Blackhawks legends like Stan Mikita and Denis Savard.

Kane’s season may have been the best in Blackhawks history.

By sheer point total, it was not: Savard owns the top four scoring seasons in franchise history, all during the goal-happy 1980s. Savard’s top four seasons were as follows:

  • 131 points in 1987-88
  • 121 in ‘82-83
  • 119 in ‘81-82
  • 116 in ‘85-86

But as mentioned above, that was in an era of offensive excess in the NHL. So, let’s see if we can take Kane’s numbers from the last season and adjust it for the eras in which they were played.

Using the average goals scored by each team as a measuring stick, Kane’s numbers are era-adjusted in this exercise based on the following ratio:

Kane’s point total this season : average goals scored by each team this season :: Kane’s era-adjusted point total : average goals scored by each team that season

For example, Kane had 110 points this season, when NHL teams averaged 244 goals. In the ‘87-88 season, when Savard had his highest point total, NHL teams averaged 297 goals.

The math: 110 x 297 / 244 = 134 points (rounded).

Using that formula, here are Kane’s era-adjusted point totals:

  • 134 points in ‘87-88
  • 139 points in ‘82-83
  • 145 points in ‘81-82
  • 143 points in ‘85-86

In short, better than each of Savard’s point totals. The science isn’t perfect here, but lends credence to the assertion that Kane just turned in the best offensive performance the Blackhawks have ever seen.

For the record, though, Kane’s era-adjusted point totals were never high enough for the league lead.

  • In ‘87-88, Kane would’ve replaced Savard in third, behind Wayne Gretzky’s 149 and Mario Lemieux’s 168.
  • In ‘82-83, he would’ve been runner-up to Gretzky’s 196
  • In ‘81-82, he would’ve been third behind Mike Bossy’s 147 and Gretzky’s 212
  • In ‘85-86, he would’ve been behind — duh — Gretzky’s NHL record of 215

None of this should be a surprise, though: a player with Kane’s talents would’ve flourished in the ‘80s wide-open style of hockey. The only question left for Kane is how long he can keep playing at this level.