Patrick Kane moved back to right wing on line with Jonathan Toews
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org December 1, 2011 9:36PM
Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers
The facts: 7:30, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: January 3, 2012 10:40AM
The media collapsed Thursday on Patrick Kane, just like defenders try to do on when he’s on the ice.
His storied run at center, which began in the preseason, has been put on the shelf for the time being. He was back at right wing on a line with center Jonathan Toews at practice, and everybody wanted his thoughts.
But before the media left him alone, the Blackhawks star wanted to point something out.
“It’s funny,” Kane said. “[With] people, it seems like everything is going wrong; it’s the end of the world here. But we’re still in a pretty good position. . . . We’re still up there in the standings.”
In other words, don’t view Kane’s move back to wing as a panic move by coach Joel Quenneville. In many ways, it was inevitable, considering how many switches he makes based on players’ performances.
The Hawks view Kane’s stint at center as putting another ace up Quenneville’s sleeve that can be used when needed. Quenneville called it “a good option.”
“That was probably what we were looking for all along,” Kane said. “Maybe not something that would be permanent, but something that’s an option down the road if need be. I’m not expecting to be done at that position.”
A couple of things played into the switch. Rookie center Marcus Kruger’s rapid progression earned him a shot on the second line, while Kane admitted he needed to get going offensively and that a change can be a spark.
“I think they thought I probably played fine, but just probably looking for a little more production,” he said.
Kane faced more challenges and handled more responsibilities at center, especially defensively. But he did well, recording 24 points in 25 games. Even his faceoff percentage (45.4) was respectable for a player who hasn’t taken many.
“[It’s] probably just being focused every second you’re on the ice,” Kane said of playing center. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the offensive zone, defensive zone or whatever it may be. Faceoffs were something I’d like to improve at. Being down low in your own end, I felt I was pretty good. I tracked the puck well.”
Kane was definitely better in Chicago than on the road, where opponents were able to get better matchups. Five of his seven goals and nine of his 17 assists have been at home. He also is a plus-11 at the United Center, compared to a
Still, he played well enough to be, as St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock put it, a “nightmare” for some teams to handle.
Kane, though, thought he could have been better.
“Everybody was pretty much talking about it at the beginning, and I pretty much proved I can play that position,” Kane said. “After that, we got on the road and we got on a long trip and things didn’t click for me personally at the position. I think they felt my game was fine there. I didn’t, really.”
So it’s exciting for Kane — and Toews, who believes Kane proved he can handle center — that he’s back at the position he became a star in.
“He knows going back on the wing is going to be as comfortable as ever,” Toews said. “I think we’ll go back to the old ways.”