Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane Does Not Deserve Blame for Team USA Collapse

By Paul Chancey
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

His face became a symbol for Team USA‘s failure. His sad, puppy dog eyes made even his harshest detractors want to give him a hug. Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane could not hide his emotion after the United States’ loss to Canada. Unfortunately, many critics are blaming Kane for the United Sates’ failures. In reality, that’s far from the case.

It’s true, however, that Kane did not have a very good Olympics. He only had four assists and no goals over the course of the six games, although not for a lack of trying. He had two chances at penalty shots and an almost-game-winning breakaway goal in the game against Russia. It’s certainly frustrating for American hockey fans who thought they had the best team in the tournament and Kane’s two missed penalty shots gave them someone to vent at. But he’s not the problem. He’d actually been playing out of his mind and with a heavy heart after the death of his grandfather.

If anyone deserves the blame, it’s the organization.

It can only be said that this was a massive failure for USA Hockey. Coming into the tournament, they had high hopes to win their first Gold medal outside North America since 1972 and maybe win back-to-back medals for the first time since 1956 and 1960. It seemed as if the Canada game was the big difference. While it did look as if the Americans could skate with Canada, poor offense and overall play — the worst time to do it — doomed them. The fact that Canada had been labelled a “fantasy team” with no chemistry would hurt even more.

Blame will arguably go to head coach Dan Bylsma and the higher-ups at USA Hockey. Bylsma did not make the right adjustments for the game against Canada and the higher-ups should (or could) have chosen some better players. But the players deserve blame too. They did not step up when it mattered and gave Jonathan Quick no offense in the bronze medal game.

This was simply an all-around failure for the team, and it looks like there’s going to be some consequences. It’s possible now that fans of Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo are laughing in between their sighs of disappointment. This performance is the cap in what has been a rough two months for the organization, which includes a failure to defend their World Juniors championship and the women’s collapse.

Had Kane scored at any point during the tournament, it indeed could have been a different story. But Phil Kessel should have scored against Canada. James van Riemsdyk should have as well. Dan Bylsma should have made the right decisions, and the higher-ups should have made better choices. But by now, it’s a shoulda-coulda-woulda situation. Even worse, if the NHL continues its typical Gary Bettman-led pig-headed decision-making, this may have been Kane and the other NHL players’ last shot. If they did go, however, Kane should be chosen to go.

There will certainly need to be changes at USA Hockey for the 2018 Olympics. But Patrick Kane should not bear the burden of blame. After all, he’s already won two Stanley Cups and plays for one of the best teams in the NHL. But getting back to this team, it was an utter and absolute embarrassment. They had a good team. But they let it slip away. Kane’s not the one to blame. It’s the whole team and organization.

They just flat-out stunk.

Paul Chancey is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for Follow him on Twitter at @ChanceyPaul and add him to your network at Google+.

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