Kane had been delaying his decision to go in hopes that some positive news regarding the CBA negotiations would come down. That hasn’t happened and Kane finally decided to bolt. That move could end up being short-lived, or it could carry into the spring. We don’t really know.
The big question is simply, who’s next?
The Blackhawks had only four players overseas prior to Kane leaving: Viktor Stalberg, Michal Rozsival, Michael Frolik, and Bryan Bickell. All for of them could do with the extra playing time during the lockout, all for different reasons..
But who will be the next to go? Niklas Hjalmarsson did head to Europe early in the lockout, but that’s due to the fact that it’s his offseason home. My hope is that Corey Crawford will find somewhere to play. He needs all of the seasoning he could possibly get before an actual season starts.
However, the smart money could actually be on Jonathan Toews. The captain has had an ear in the negotiations almost the entire time, and has been hosting practices with current and former Hawks sporadically in Chicago throughout this lockout. But a man can only hold out for so long.
Toews and Kane share an agent, in Pat Brisson. Ray Emery also shares that same agent, just to throw another name out there that could be convinced. With his questionable health, though, I’d expect Emery to stay.
Kane and potentially Brisson may both be in Toews’ ear about this. Kane has already mentioned his desire to play with Toews if the two ended up in Europe together, and EHC Biel could end up being the destination for the captain if he chooses to leave.
That’s pure speculation on my part, though. With the CBA negotations up and down, Toews may opt to remain here for a few more weeks. Should things go south and a situation where not only an 82 game season is in question, but a season in general, then it’s an entirely different story.
But because of the shared agent and an increasing frustration, Jonathan Toews could be the next to go. If that happens, then it might be time to start gearing up for the 2013-2014 season.