Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Back in early May, shortly after the
Chicago Blackhawks season came to a disappointing end in the first round of
the playoffs, winger Patrick Kane was the recipient of some unwanted
These days, however, a wiser Kane is sticking to making headlines for his play
on the ice, which has had a great deal to do with Chicago's amazing start to
The bad press came via Deadspin.com, which on May 7 ran a story bearing the
headline "Patrick Kane's Offseason Drinking Regimen Is Off To A Great Start."
The original piece featured several photos of Kane enjoying Cinco de Mayo a
little too much in Madison, Wis., and another story that included eyewitness
accounts of Kane's public display of drunkenness followed a few days later.
Unfortunately for Kane, the Internet is indeed written in ink and both stories
can still be found here:
Making matters worse, Kane already had a reputation for hard partying before
the initial Deadspin story was released, thanks to a run-in with a cab driver
in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., back in August 2009. That time, Kane and his
cousin were arrested for allegedly roughing up a cabbie when they refused to
pay their fare. Although felony charges were originally on the docket, the
men were able to get past the fracas after pleading guilty to non-criminal
disorderly conduct charges.
In light of that previous incident, things looked bad for Kane when the
Madison story was unleashed on the public. A humbled Kane eventually addressed
his Madison mistake at the Chicago Blackhawks convention in late July.
"We all saw the photos," Kane said. "They're pretty embarrassing."
Although Kane stopped short of admitting he had a drinking problem, he did say
at the July event that "I don't really want to put myself in that position
Adding to the embarrassment was the fact that Kane -- the No. 1 overall pick
of the 2007 draft -- was coming off his worst season as an NHLer. He posted a
career-low 66 points over 82 games in 2011-12 and had four assists during
Chicago's six-game playoff loss to Phoenix.
For Kane, it seems the best way to avoid unwanted publicity has been to
rededicate himself to his sport, and, boy, is it ever working.
Kane has been arguably the best player on a team that's been head and
shoulders above the rest of the league. He leads the Blackhawks in both goals
(10) and assists (14) and is a big reason Chicago has set an NHL record by
going 19 games (16-0-3) into a season without a regulation loss.
With Kane playing his best hockey in a long time, the sky's the limit for the
Blackhawks and their star-studded lineup. The club also boasts the likes of
Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, and that mix of
superstars has Chicago playing better than it has since winning the
franchise's first Stanley Cup in decades back in 2010.
Even without the mess he made for himself in Madison, Kane would have been
under tremendous pressure to produce this season. It's possible the Deadspin
story actually helped him get back on track as the embarrassing predicament
served as fuel to prove the doubters wrong.
You won't hear the 24-year-old Kane talk about the maturity he's gained in
light of last year's antics, but that hasn't stopped others from noticing.
"He's still a fun guy to be around, but you can just tell that there is a sort
of grownup-ness about him that I think is going to bode well," Blackhawks
television analyst Ed Olczyk recently told NHL.com.
Although he may not want to make a big deal out of his perceived
transformation, Kane recently spoke to NHL.com about the tough lessons he's
learned. The most important one is the realization that in the digital age
it's best to assume somebody is watching, as often is the case.
"It's a different era with social media, camera phones, everything," Kane
said. "This is the first time someone has really gone through all of that and
you don't really have anyone to reflect on or anyone to give you advice. It's
something you have to learn as you go, but I'm trying my best."
In a league that is seemingly stocked with introverts, Kane is someone who is
comfortable in the spotlight. That desire may have gotten him into trouble
last year, but the same thing is driving his stark turnaround in 2013.
Who knows? If things keep going the right way, maybe the next time Kane shows
up on Deadspin for drinking, the picture will show him taking a swig out of
Lord Stanley's chalice rather than a can of Natty Light.
The Sports Network