Stint In Europe During NHL Lockout Should Benefit Patrick Kane

By Randy Holt
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

At this point in his career, there is no secret as to what is expected from Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. He needs to be better. Plain and simple.

Kane is coming off of his most disappointing campaign of his career, failing to even crack the 70 point mark. The fact that such a point total was considered a disappointment gives you an indication of just how high the expectations are for the still young forward.

The first overall pick from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft is still one of the most skilled hockey players on the entire planet. He knows it. His teammates know it. Every observer knows it. But, for whatever reason, we haven’t seen the same level of play from Kane since the Hawks won the Stanley Cup, though the disappointment isn’t just limited to him.

There were a variety of factors that may have contributed to such a poor season for Kane last year. That attempted transition from wing to center was likely one of them. We’ll probably see that again at some point this year, unfortunately. When it wasn’t struggling with the transition, it was just a matter of trying to do too much. Some also called his conditioning into question.

Kane spent his time during the lockout playing for HC Biel over in Switzerland. By all accounts, his time there should prove extremely beneficial for him. It gave him time to mature a little bit, but the experience should mainly prove to be an asset over the course of games. It’s a different style of game and it’s a larger ice, which could allow him to skate circles around players who weren’t playing competitive games over in Europe.

For Kane, you have to think it has to be more of a mental state than a physical thing that is holding him back. We all know that he is an extremely skilled player. But with his teammates dropping like flies to injury last season, he may have felt some pressure on him, which was undoubtedly present. That pressure on Kane, as an individual, is a bit lighter, but it’s quite a bit larger on the entire team.

When you combine the experience of playing in Switzerland, mentally and physically, along with some added motivation from the doubters that reside inside and out of Chicago, Kane could be in store for a huge 2013 campaign.


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