The Blackhawks have just two games left in the forgettable and frustrating 2021-22 NHL season, which is a relief. However, as soon as it’s over, they’ll be facing some critical questions regarding Kyle Davidson’s rebuilding efforts and the presence of key players/veterans like Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, and, of course, Patrick Kane.
In what will likely be his final media availability of the season, Kane said that he and Kyle Davidson had not had any conversations about what Kane or the team’s long-term future might look like.
Kane-Davidson Haven’t Discussed Future Yet
“We’ll have our end of the year meetings, and I’m sure talk about certain things that both of us are thinking and just kind of go from there,” Kane said on Tuesday morning. “I’m sure there will be more than one discussion. For me, it’s more about just having a good summer and getting myself back to the level I know I can be at, and help this team out more next year than I believe I did this year. Not really, as far as certain things about the future here, but we’ve had discussions just kind of day-to-day type stuff, but nothing really. Haven’t really dove into it yet.”
Kane has one year left on his current deal, and if he’s going to stick around in Chicago, he and Kyle Davidson will soon have to cross the bridge of what Kane’s next contract might look like. Surely it won’t be at his current $10.5 million cap hit, but it’s not likely to be a bargain-buy either. After all, Kane has 92 points this season and even matched his career-high assists mark. He’s still an outstanding player, and he will likely be paid as such.
Kane Ready to Embrace Teacher Role with the Blackhawks
We know that Kane will be a top-line winger on the ice, but he’ll have to add the role of teacher and mentor to his repertoire if he’s to be successful in helping the Blackhawks cultivate the next winning hockey team in Chicago. Kane says he’s always looking to improve as a player and looking forward to that challenge.
“As a player, you’re always trying to personally improve yourself and try to get better by the day,” Kane said. “I think that’s something that I feel I can be even better is, you know, trying to help these guys develop a little bit quicker. Point some things out on the ice, just little details that might help our team, especially when they’re in the back of your mind, and you can know that certain things are going to happen out there.”
This responsibility shouldn’t be an issue for Kane. We’ve already seen him help the careers of a handful of young players take off. Artemi Panarin, Alex DeBrincat, and this season, Dylan Strome have all benefitted dramatically by simply playing alongside Kane.
Playing with Alex DeBrincat Makes Things Much Easier
Kane did say, however, that having Alex DeBrincat in town for the long haul is something that would make his life in Chicago much easier. Kane lost Artemi Panarin a few years ago when the Blackhawks traded him to Columbus for Brandon Saad 2.0. It doesn’t sound like Kane is interested in having his favorite linemate yanked away as they prepare for some light years here.
“I’ve developed some chemistry with DeBrincat over the years, so if he’s here and he’s a big piece, that makes it easier for me too, right, because I’m playing with him every day and he’s such a good player, and it makes it fun to be out there with him. We’ll see how it shakes out, though.”
DeBrincat sounded like he was open to the idea of being here for the rebuild on Monday, so that’s good news for Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks.
Ignoring the Noise …
While everyone in town is talking about the Blackhawks rebuild (well, those that aren’t talking about everything happening in Chicago sports but the Blackhawks), Patrick Kane called the term rebuilding noise that he doesn’t pay any attention to.
“I guess it’s all noise, right? You can talk about rebuild [and] it seems like that word is brought up a lot, but as a player, it’s more about trying to be the best you can be as a player and trying to help the team win.”
Kane also thinks that despite Kyle Davidson having proclaimed the Blackhawks a rebuilding team, things don’t have to be ugly for long if things shake out a certain way. Kane called the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers perfect examples of teams operating in expedited rebuilds and playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs next month. Kane also thinks that despite this season being filled with disappointment, there are some pieces on the roster that can “surprise some people.”
“I think there are parts of our team where we could come back next year and surprise some people and win a lot of hockey games,” Kane said. “I really truly believe that. There are obviously other parts that need to be improved, and we need to work on, but I feel like when you’re one of the top players on the team, and you’re looked at to provide offense and help the team win, that way I think there’s always that belief in the back of your mind that you can help the team win that way on any given night. For me, I don’t really think about the word rebuild and the way that shakes out. For me, it’s about what I can do to help the team win.
“You can win and still be in a rebuild, and I think there are teams that have accelerated that too,” Kane said. “You got Los Angeles, they had some young guys that probably came in and exceeded some of their front office expectations, and all of a sudden, they’re in a spot where they can sign like [Phillip] Danault and trade for [Viktor] Arvidsson, and they’re a better team. Same thing with the Rangers, right? They put out that memo a couple of years ago that they were rebuilding, and then all of a sudden, they’re one of the best teams in the league a couple of years later. Obviously, you bring in a guy like [Artemi] Panarin, which helps. Or, a guy like [Igor] Shesterkin comes to the forefront, and you need those young guys to take the next steps obviously, but I think it can be done quicker than maybe some people think.”
I don’t think the Blackhawks will have a Kings or Rangers type transition because I feel that the roster and the system are massively devoid of talent and depth, but I can’t blame Kane for looking at the glass half full. How else is he going to get through this process?
Kane Focused on Getting Healthy for Next Season
Despite the Blackhawks being near the bottom of the standings, Patrick Kane has turned a slow start personally into a 92-point campaign; for that, he’s happy but not content.
“I’m proud of myself in some ways for sure, ” Kane said. “The way this season went and I was able to perform, but I still think that I need to be at another level coming into next year. I think that starts with just having a good summer and getting 100 percent healthy, and next time I step on the ice, I want to make sure that my body is good and that I’m able to do stuff that I want to on the ice.”
As far as the slow start, Kane eluded to some injuries issues that he has apparently been dealing with this season. Kane wouldn’t go into detail on the injuries, but he credited the training staff for making it possible for him to play night in and night out this season.
“I was happy with the way I was able to get myself ready pretty much for every game, but I definitely give the training staff a lot of credit for that,” Kane said. “But it [his body] was probably not where I needed it to be. There were certain things on the ice where maybe you feel limited with, and I’ll just try to correct that before next year.”
“There’s always stuff you can do,” Kane said. “As far as a procedure, I don’t think that’s really anything to talk about right now.”
That’s a Wrap
Kane and the Blackhawks have two more games, but when Kane left the media workroom at the United Center this morning, he told everyone to have a good summer, so I wouldn’t expect to hear from him anytime soon.