Everyone has an idea, or a thought on what the Blackhawks Brass should do regarding Patrick Kane. Some say, trade him now. Others, vehemently throw themselves to the ground and say if they trade him, they’ll never watch a Hawks game again, and finally there is the wait and see crowd.
Apart from the tantrum of never watching the Hawks again, I have considered each of these options at length and that’s not to say I prefer any one stance. In fact, there is merit to be found on both sides.
My personal feeling is that if you are a true Hawks fan, then you will be one no matter what happens. To think Kane is the only player the Hawks have to offer is short sighted to say the least, and if that were the case they’d be called the Kanes, not the Blackhawks. My thought is that we should all just wait and see what happens, but be prepared for anything to happen.
In the meantime, let’s weigh the rational arguments for, or against trading Patrick Kane. I’ll start with against since here in Chicago that seems like the more popular option, at least in the circles that I navigate.
A trade at this time seems highly unlikely, unless the teams involved have a crystal ball at their disposal. As it stands, there is not an abundance of facts at play here. Currently, there is only speculation, and with that comes a good deal of uncertainty.
Any team that is interested would be taking an inordinate risk on a player that could potentially sit for a significant amount of time, or worse not be allowed to play again. In addition, Patrick Kane does have a trade/movement clause which would pose problems as well. For those reasons alone, it seems pretty unlikely that any team would be willing to do more than kick tires at this point.
Of course there will be interest, especially given the Blackhawks well publicized stance on Patrick Kane’s penchant for off ice “distractions” and their growing lack of patience for that behavior. If another team, even a rival team felt they could get Patrick Kane and he was able to play, it would seem like the steal of the century, but we shouldn’t expect it to be that simple at all.
First of all, the Blackhawks have always played their cards pretty close to the vest. Just because other teams have called about Kane (and let’s be real, as a GM, it would be their duty to as least ask), that in no way means that the Blackhawks are even remotely entertaining the idea at this time.
Is it possible? Of course it is. The Blackhawks Organization has made absolutely no secret about their desire to avoid the bad PR Kane’s off ice escapades have created in the past. They’ve also made it clear many times over that they would prefer not to have a player of his importance sully the family reputation they’ve built. To be fair, bad PR is something the Blackhawks would like to avoid with any player they employ, not just Kane.
Does this mean that the Blackhawks think he’s guilty? Simply put, no. It just means that there is a major question involving Kane and his reputation for getting himself into hot water, and regardless of the outcome, this particular incident will be nearly impossible for the Blackhawks to sweep under the rug.
It is now a question that will be hanging from every reporters tongue. A doubt amongst many fans and a massive bit of derision amongst nearly every rival fan base.
However, there are several reasons this may mean nothing in the long run.
First, the Hawks re-built their reputation from nothing (or rather something pretty awful) when Rocky Wirtz took over, and brought in John McDonough. Some would argue that this is a blip on the radar in comparison to the extraordinary amount of effort required to right the ship from decades of bad blood between the former regime and well, EVERYONE…and Patrick Kane is just one player and a pretty good one at that. Second, Patrick Kane has not been convicted of anything, nor are there any facts to PROVE he is guilty as of today…and he has been a huge part of re-building the franchise that we see today. Finally, there will always be fans and entire fan bases that hate the Blackhawks, their fans and Patrick Kane. Let’s face it, there will be a large contingent of people that will disagree with whatever stance the Blackhawks choose to take.
For these reasons alone, do not expect to see the Blackhawks make a decision solely based on what this does to the franchise reputation as they’ve bounced back before. After all, media and fans alike have speculated on a Kane trade after his Cinco De Mayo Fail in 2012, His drunken speech in 2010, and CabbyGate. Yet he continues to wear a Blackhawks uniform. There’s always going to be someone out there to disagree, no matter what the argument.
If a trade does come, there are a lot of things that would have to fall into place. So, let’s examine the arguments for a trade, too. Since this isn’t a debate about his guilt or innocence, let’s assume Patrick Kane’s value is the same as it would have been in June, because teams that have an issue with his off ice persona would be unlikely to pursue him in a trade regardless.
First, no matter who the potential trade partners might be, they would have to have either enough cap space to take on a $10,500,000 cap hit, or be willing to part with a player that could offset that hit. Meaning a top line player for a top line player. Now, for some teams this is a possibility…but if you have a Kane caliber player, why would you trade for Kane?
You probably wouldn’t unless there was cause to be concerned that the player they trade would not re-sign in a contract year. The player would not sign an extension just prior to a contract year, or could command more money because of Kane and Toews recent contracts, in which case they are taking the known over the unknown.
Of course, if you are a team loaded with cap room and without a marquee player like Kane, you might be willing to give up a top level prospect, or a young NHL player with some serious upside and possibly throw in a higher draft pick. With that in mind, we look to Marcus Kruger, and next season, the need to sign Seabrook as well as some role players who are due new contracts.
In light of these inevitable road blocks that we face with Kruger and Seabrook among others, these are a couple of trade scenarios that could be worth some thought at the very least.
Let’s have some fun, because it’s much more entertaining to speculate about what you could get than if Kane is, or is not guilty. And the reality is, right now virtually everything we hear is going to be speculation, including every single possible trade scenario that I or anyone else could come up with. Until someone pulls the trigger, that’s all anyone has to offer on this subject.
So, humor me, and understand that this speculation is not at all about guilt or innocence and merely about what ifs. As with ANY trade rumor, we all sit around and guess who is going where, and for what return…so let’s put aside what could cause a trade of this magnitude to come to fruition, and just speculate on it as though it were any other trade at the deadline, or on July 1…like Vermette, or Kessel, or even Saad.
What if a young blue liner with a boat load of potential were available, or a very high pick were thrown in with a key piece to return Kane to the GM that drafted him? Or just for fun, what if Columbus was willing to return a certain power forward for Kane? Maybe there is a hot shot sniper who doesn’t get along with his coach? Or a veteran, who isn’t going to be able to reach an extension agreement with his current team before the season starts, and has no plans to negotiate during the season, thereby leaving them open to offer sheet madness next summer? If you were an NHL GM, would you not simply consider the possibilities?
Even if you aren’t the least bit interested in pulling the trigger, isn’t tire kicking still a part of the job description. General Managers are indeed the craftsmen of the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘could happens’. They have to be.
Because in professional sports there is only ONE certainty…There is always going to be another game to be played. But, for the players each game could potentially be their last (for any number of reasons) and any GM who isn’t prepared for that isn’t doing their job.
There are always possibilities out there, trades that are worth looking into. Case in point, Brandon Saad. If Bowman hadn’t made a plan for any scenario, he would have gone to another team on an offer sheet, and the Blackhawks would have a few lousy draft picks NEXT YEAR to show for it. So, while trading Kane is unlikely to be a popular decision, it is a possible outcome, whether or not Kane is completely exonerated, or simply never charged at all.
For those who will argue, innocent until proven guilty…that’s not even a factor here. If he’s guilty, he won’t play anywhere, making trade discussions more than a little pointless.
Trading Kane would be merely a business decision, and it would not be done without a good deal of planning by Bowman and the rest of the Organization. At this stage, Bowman has become quite adept at planning for every possible scenario you could throw at him. You better believe he has a plan for Kane to stay and win more cups. But, there is not a chance that he hasn’t also considered a future without Kane, or listened intently to anything the tire kickers have had to say, because his job is not to maintain a team that won last year, but to produce a team that can win next year, and the year after, and the year after……
Every GM out there will be faced with losing a star player at some point. For all manner of reasons. Money, age, injury, or sometimes it is simply time for both sides to move on.
Age or Injuries aren’t factors with Kane, but you could argue money and time to move on may come into play here. Financially, if they could replace Kane with an offensive weapon that is slightly more budget friendly, or a young blue liner who is ready to go now, it could make signing Brent Seabrook and Marcus Kruger to long term contracts possible. And it could also allow players like Teravainen, Dano and Panarin to really prove their worth as well. In fact, Teravainen started playing some of his best and most confident hockey in his short NHL career when Kane went down with a broken clavicle last year.
We can’t sit here and pretend that there is absolutely no way Patrick Kane could be traded. Or that there is no way that Seabrook will play somewhere else after this season, or that he or any other player couldn’t be traded at any point, because we are not in control. And news flash, we shouldn’t be. Because emotional decisions are generally not the most effective kind of decisions to be made, and that is the only kind of decision we as fans generally would make.
Of course, we would love to see our favorite players remain Blackhawks forever, but that is completely unrealistic unless you wish to see the Blackhawks ‘defend’ their cup from their couches for the foreseeable future.
At the end of the day, the organization has to do whatever they can, not only to position the team to win, but also to fill the seats with engaged fans who want the Blackhawks to win! Otherwise, We’ll be watching the next team step up in their place to the point that we need to create our own version of the “Keep the Red Out” Campaigns.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I rather like the screaming mass of Hawks fans that inhabit nearly every seat at the United Center. For Wirtz, Bowman and McDonough, it is imperative that they keep it that way, and we have to trust that whatever they do, it will be in the interest of doing just that!
I can’t pretend to know what the Blackhawks Organization is thinking, and I have no knowledge of what might happen with the case in Buffalo. My position on this is simply that just as Stan Bowman must be prepared for any and all possible outcomes, the fans must do the same. The organization has rewarded our faith in them time and again, and I have to believe that they will continue on the same path, even if the road is a bit bumpier than we might like.
We will one day have to watch the Hawks play without Patrick Kane. That day could be tomorrow, or it could be sometime down the road, but that day will come whether we are prepared for it, or not.