Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks had limited expectations for postseason hockey. Entering the year without Jonathan Toews, without a true No. 1 goaltender, and with a hefty amount of unproven players, many people (myself included) expected it to be a long, arduous season. However, while they ultimately did not make the postseason, there was a lot to look at as positives from the 2020-21 season.
One of those positives was watching Patrick Kane play at a career-best pace for most of the season. He ended the year finished in a tie for fifth in the NHL in scoring and tallied his 400th career goal.
After the Blackhawks’ offseason this summer, the expectations around the Blackhawks are much higher than they were last season. With the additions of Seth Jones, Marc-André Fleury, Tyler Johnson, and Jake McCabe and the return of Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks should be in the hunt for the postseason. It’s a much different feeling entering this season than it was last season. But for Kane, the goal is still to prove those who are doubting the Blackhawks wrong, yet again.
Patrick Kane: "It still feels like people aren't really expecting us to be a good team, or maybe better, but not necessarily like a playoff team. That's our goal, to prove people wrong and get into the playoffs and hopefully hit our stride." #Blackhawks https://t.co/zwYry1NToP
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 6, 2021
Even with a nagging injury, he is still working through, Kane is expected to be the offensive leader of the Blackhawks once again. It’ll hopefully be a lighter offensive load on his shoulder this season after the resurgence of Alex DeBrincat, the return of Toews (which should also help Dominik Kubalík, too), and the breakout last year with Brandon Hagel. But even with the expected help, Kane is still viewed as one of the top players in the league, landing at No. 11 on NHL Network’s Top 50 players list and No. 14 on TSN’s similar list, if that holds any weight for you.
Patrick Kane: "[This is] probably one of the tougher camps that I've been a part of, as far as skating and intensity of the practices and just the amount of time on the ice. But it's good. It's definitely something that I feel that I needed coming into this camp."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) October 6, 2021
Was Kane out of shape? Did he need motivation? Whatever the case may be, if I were a Blackhawks opponent this season, I’d be worried that this offseason and training camp has made Patrick Kane, still one of the best players in the league, hungrier for the team and individual success.