Patrick Kane is not particularly good with words. This is understandable: At 20 years old, he's just a kid, and this is sort of the learning process involved with getting older. You say and do dumb things, and then you try to improve on them.
Kane's run-in with a cab driver over a 20 cent fare dispute this offseason, and the subsequent charges therein, were just part one in Kane's bad offseason. Kane's most recent comments to NHL.com are more than a little tone-deaf, especially given the Hawks' salary cap situation and future after 2010. First, the quote:
As they enter the 2009-10 season, the word "rebuild' isn't even a part of the Hawks' vocabulary. These days, Kane believes only two words should be used. "It's probably (Stanley) Cup or bust this year, and that's what we want," Kane told NHL.com. "I think you've got to play for those expectations. The better you get, the more the expectations are going to grow. Expectations are probably to the ceiling, but that's the way it should be. That's the way we want it."
Now, let us explain. That seems pretty innocuous, right? Kane is talking about expecting to win, and that's the sort of thing you want athletes to say. (Unless Jay Cutler says it. Anything Jay Cutler says is inherently evil.)
But the reason that comment causes Hawks fans' ears to perk up is that it could be construed as Kane saying he doesn't believe the team will be intact after 2010. He may be right: Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith will all require large deals, and the Hawks are already capped out after their Marian Hossa signing this offseason. There's a good chance one of those three young stars won't be back in 2011. There's a good chance this is the Blackhawks' only year to get it done, in so far as Kane is concerned.
Kane might not mean all that, but even the implication is frightening. It leads to overanalysis. It scares people. Which is why Kane, bless his little cabbie-punching heart, should probably sit the next few plays out. Just stop talking for a while, champ. Stick to the hockey bit; you're awfully good at that. The talking thing? Not so much.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.