It’s been explained at length by general manager Kyle Davidson–but with all the speculation flying about where former Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane will land, it brings up the inevitable question:
What if Patrick Kane did stay?
Kane was traded to the New York Rangers after months, if not a full year of trade speculation. It netted the Blackhawks a conditional 2023 second-round and 2024 fourth-round pick. It would have turned into a first-round pick but the Rangers failed to get out of opening round of the playoffs.
Kane then went under a hip resurfacing–a procedure to repair what had been a poorly kept secret of injury. Kane made it clear that he would take his time in picking a team until late autumn–potentially early December.
Well, here we are.
Blackhawks and Kane Had Different Goals
Months ago, I sided with Davidson’s decision to move on from franchise stalwarts in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane–two decisions not easily reconciled. Toews’ health made the decision simpler for Davidson, but Kane certainly proposed some cognitive dissonance.
There was till clearly some gas left in the tank–along with an attachment between fan, Kane, and the organization. But Davidson saw it differently.
““I think we made our decision that we were going to move on from Jonathan and Patrick,” Davidson told radio hosts Mully and Haugh back in May. “It was not an easy decision but one we thought gave these young players coming in the best opportunity into those leadership roles that Jonathan and Patrick filled so amazingly for so long.”
Davidson talked a lot about organic leadership growing in the locker room without the faces of the franchise interrupting it. The move wasn’t a dig. It actually felt like the right move because in all reality the past was exactly that–the past.
So looking at the Blackhawks 5-8 start, which given their grueling schedule, is impressive. Would a Kane, returning around this time, helped things along further? Could it have helped the Blackhawks along, potentially saving a trade last season and instead sending him off during this trade deadline coming up?
Could they have kept im until he played his final game in a Blackhawks jersey?
Or is it all just romantic nostalgia clouding what was a reasonable move at the right time?
Hindsight, Nostalgia Clouds the Reason Behind The Move Last Winter
As Kane entertains offers from other teams, there’s still questions as to whether his hip will hold up. Nicklas Backstrom went through the same procedure, and has now stepped away indefinitely from the game.
Now maybe Kane will be just fine–he makes it another few seasons and is not only productive, but helps a team find its way to a Stanley Cup. That risk would be worth it on the hip.
But a rebuild? With maybe a couple years to go? A betting man with a desire to win is going to go for the Stanley Cup one last time. So maybe it’s hindsight and nostalgia overruling reason on this one. Kane himself alluded to not being into the idea of a rebuild.
Meanwhile, Davidson wanted a fresh start in the locker room, one that would allow the new young players he drafted the latitude to help build things from the ground up.
Even looking back while weighing it all makes sense. Why change it? The crescendo of the months with trade speculation that led to him being dealt to New York even now seems the fitting end.
Both sides received its closure–albeit for different reasons. Even now, as Kane chooses a team to sign with, fans can watch but they get to wait for Connor Bedard and his latest exploits instead.
The Fitting Conclusion
Ultimately, it all went the way it was supposed to. Yes, it would have been a better ending with Kane chasing Cups with the Blackhawks until he decided hang up his skates.
But that dream ended in 2016-17, when Stan Bowman could never figure out how to retool and sent the team on the awkward path its been on until they won the draft lottery in May.
That trade was the right move at the right time. It signaled the true beginning of a new era.
Hawks fans will likely root for Kane wherever he ends up while having Bedard to usher in what could be an even more exciting era.
It doesn’t take away from what was–and certainly–what will be an exciting time when #88 goes up to the rafters someday.