Hopefully, Patrick Kane will be back soon, but you can never be sure
BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist March 20, 2014 10:40PM
Updated: April 22, 2014 6:38AM
With luck, Patrick Kane will miss three weeks with his ‘‘lower body injury,’’ and everything will be fine.
Without luck, well, can you say Derrick Rose?
No, relax. I’m just doing a little glass-all-empty thing here.
I’m not saying Kaner will play in only 10 games in the next 913 days, as Rose will have done for the Bulls by the start of next season. (Thanks for that stat, Sun-Times Bulls guy Joe Cowley.)
But I am saying the apparent left knee injury Kane suffered in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory Wednesday over the Blues is not at all what you want to see for the NHL’s tiniest, most brilliant dancer.
You don’t want to see Tinker Bell’s gossamer wing pinched. You don’t want to see Kane’s prancing feet shackled. Even for a moment.
A defender fell on the side of Kane’s lower leg at the United Center, and if the Hawks winger hadn’t lifted his left skate ever so slightly at the last instant, his whole knee could have blown out. Like a football offensive lineman’s knee when he’s blocking and some fat guy falls on him from the side.
That, folks, is what’s scary. That’s what’s scary about all elite sport — the micro-distance between pain and disaster.
For the glass-half-full folks, we’ll assume Kane will be back after strengthening his knee ligaments, riding the stationary bike, etc. — ready to roll for the postseason.
The Hawks have 12 regular-season games left over 23 days. Three weeks and change. So nice, easy math there. Maybe that’s all Kane will miss.
But the NSA is less secretive about spying than the NHL is about injuries. So do you trust a prognosis? On an injury we can only speculate about?
Here’s one thing for sure: The Hawks will not win the Stanley Cup without Kane.
Yes, the team is deep. And, yes, leader Jonathan Toews is Captain Serious, and re-energized Patrick Sharp has 29 goals and 39 assists, and defender Duncan Keith is solid, and ageless Marian Hossa does it all.
But you don’t win the bug show without your butterfly, and that’s that.
Kane scored the goal in overtime for the Hawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup championship, breaking a near-half-century of Chicago hockey failure.
He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013.
He does things in spurts that can simply dazzle you, even if he remains quiet for stretches when he flits about and you wonder where he is. He always has had an amazing ability to avoid big blows, to shift and turn and let others collide on the boards.
He doesn’t get those head shots, like the ones that put Penguins star Sidney Crosby on the shelf. He leaks through the defense like a water drop down a windshield.
And that’s scary, too.
He’s so close to the fray yet untouched. Or he has been.
Indeed, Kane, at 5-10, 170 pounds, has missed only 12 games in his seven-year career. Nine of those were with a sprained ankle in 2010-2011. He has been a rock. Or a pebble, maybe.
“It’s definitely a huge loss for us,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said after Kane’s injury. ‘‘We’ve been fortunate [here he knocked on the wood podium] as far as not getting hit too hard [by injuries]. But you’re going to get tested at some point.”
This team has the talent and the will, it seems, to become a dynasty, one we’ll talk about for years to come.
But I wasn’t nuts about the Sochi Olympics breaking up the gang for three weeks. And this Kane thing worries me.
You don’t want to see him with a knee brace on. He needs everything he has to stay elusive, potent, safe.
Shortly after the game Wednesday, Kane’s agent told NBCSports.com that he expected Kane back in two weeks. Coach Q said three weeks.
Can I hear a month? Forever?
OK, just being skeptical.
Let’s assume everything goes well for Kane, and the Hawks don’t suffer in the standings because of his absence, and he comes back full of hiss and vinegar for the Cup run. That would be great.
You’ll have to pardon me for my negative thoughts. It’s just that Chicago has burned me before.