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Patrick Kane, A Year Later

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Is Kaner the Face of the NHL?

You may have caught it already, but if you didn't, you should check this out reversal of opinion on Patrick Kane by the sports blog Deadspin.

You may remember that it wasn't much less than a year ago that Deadspin was calling out Kane for allegedly missing a couple practices, and possibly a game or two earlier in the year, for being hungover -- if not worse. How quickly things can change, no?

While Kane's peformance at the Skills Competition surely brought a smile to everyone, Hawks fans probably rolled their eyes a bit and asked if he couldn't get a puck between the posts more than once a month. Kane's come in for a lot of criticism around here lately, a lot of it unfair, but maybe that's a true example of just how high the bar he's set is. We expect 30 goals, 80 points, and if we don't get them....well, start the asinine trade rumors.

But that's kind of a different discussion. What this story is contending is that Kane should be the face of the league. It's not as ridiculous as it sounds, but he will have to produce more on the ice than he has to have a real claim to that.

But you see what Deadspin is getting at. Kane's personality is infectious. When he's playing well, he does look like he's having the time of his life out there. His game can be electric. He comes with just a little bit of sneer, the need to prove people wrong and to stuff the doubts about him and his team in a place that would be very uncomfortable to have it. He's no angel, and nor should he be, because that and all of those things are something hockey fans love.

While the NHL has spared no time or expense trying to push Sidney Crosby upon the masses, hockey fans have never really warmed up to anything other than his talent outstide of Pittsburgh. He's too bland. There's no there there. The planet's best player for sure, but you don't want to meet him.

Kane's different. You would want to hang out with him, at least to watch the excellent television that Kane in public can be. Fans like that more, at least fans of the sport do. I constantly hear from bloggers on other teams who just love Kaner, his play and his antics. I know it might be cosidered hypocritical for me to laud Kane's personality off the ice when I tattooed him last year for that Deadspoin story. But the point then, as it was now, was that I didn't care what Kane got up to on his free time as long as it didn't affect his performance at work. A year ago, it sure looked like it did. Now? Even with the dip in scoring, that's not the case. And he hasn't caused a storm in the gossip pages and email threads this time around.

But Kane will never be at the forefront of the league's marketing. Because what fans may like scares the innards out of the suits. The fear is that Kane doesn't attract the family crowd, and it's probably right. That Crosby boy, he's clean and proper, and won't scare mom. Kane definitely would.

And that's ok. I'd prefer to keep Kane our own if possible. 

Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .

Related Topics blackhawks, kane, the turnaround
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