After last summer’s embarrassing incident in Wisconsin, there came the howls and screams for the Chicago Blackhawks to finally crack down and punish Patrick Kane. The hotheaded kid was out of control. They called for his trade to anywhere. A few even called for the team to force him into rehab.
Instead, general manager Stan Bowman and president John McDonough probably sat Kane down and told him, in no uncertain terms, that this behavior wouldn’t be tolerated anymore and laid down some kind of consequence if he didn’t straighten up his act. He laid low in Buffalo over the summer and admitted to Chicago media that he was making an effort to do better, so it can be safely said that he got the message.
When Kane finally decided to head overseas to play during the lockout, a few snickered and said that he’d raise as much hell there as he did here. Well, they were wrong. His time in Switzerland playing for EHC Biel was spent doing just that: playing hockey. He rarely went out with others, if at all, and usually spent his evenings at home watching streamed movies on his computer or reading. In interviews with Swiss TV, Kane said he loved how quiet it was there. Okay, so maybe he was exaggerating. But in those interviews, you could see something different about him.
Perhaps the change of scenery has been the wake up call Kane needed. He was in a foreign country where English is not a language of priority (Biel is officially Swiss German and French). He was thrust back to his junior hockey days of cramped locker rooms, carrying his own gear and long bus rides to games. Other than his mother, who had accompanied him to Switzerland, his family was thousands of miles away. Maybe in those many hours of solitude, he thought about his life and how the choices he’s made could impact his hockey career.
I’m sure once he gets back to the States, he’ll want to unwind before training camp and that’s normal–though it’ll be hard to do with that nasty giant cut on his upper lip from his last Swiss game, eesh. But once he’s able to relax and get back into NHL mode, he’ll remember those quiet moments in Biel and change his ways. He’ll want to do that not just for himself as a person, but as a hockey player who’s idolized by children and adults alike.
I think we’ve seen Peter Pan for the last time. A shortened schedule and playoff mindset will surely turn Patrick Kane into full-fledged mature adult. And that’s when we’ll see the elite player he wants to be.