Hawk Talk - Kane at Center Stage

The recent hubub surrounding Blackhawks' star right winger, Patrick Kane, has nothing to do with indulging in the fruits of Chicago's night life, nor does it concern Kane's encounters with any Buffalo cab drivers. This Patrick Kane tale mostly has to do with the recent Hawks experiment of placing him between two wingers.

Kane was recently approached by Blackhawks' brass about the idea of moving to the center position, most likely on the first line. Now, before you throw your bowler hat to the floor and flatten it with the bottom of your shoe in disgust, know that this is merely an experiment to see how Kane fits into one of many different lineups Coach Q is thinking about playing with.

The moment this news dropped, Hawks tweets began overflowing with protests, some crying out that management might as well try him out in goal next. Feel free to criticize, but we should all try to understand that Hawks brass understands just as well as the rest of us the downside to trying Kane out in the Center position. Though there are several upsides that come to mind when considering this new placement for Kane, the obvious cons are definitely present:

1. Kane is most comfortable playing on the wing - Most notably on the right wing; the simple argument is presented to the tune of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Seems logical, but it's also important to take into account the fact that Chicago does have a need for at least one more natural center. Is Kane the answer to that need? Not exactly, as he is obviously not a natural center.

CSNChicago's Tracey Myers suggested that should this experimental solution fail (which is certainly likely), Mr. Bowman might try to make a trade for a solid second line center perhaps using draft picks and propects. Hawks only have $3.4 - $4 million in cap space available, so acquiring a natural second line center might require shedding some salary.

2. Kane is noticeably undersized - He's isn't that short at 5'10", but I believe he is still only 175 lbs, which likely takes into account the added 10-15 lbs of muscle he put on this summer, though I could be wrong about that. If Kane has not gotten his weight up closer to 200 lbs, he will most likely be significantly out-matched in the center position, especially down-low. Is this the case with all players with the similar physicality? No, though Kane does not play with the same edge as other centers who may appear smaller, but can play a bigger man's game. 

3. Kane's defensive game still needs work - Has Kane made strides in improving his defensive game? Yes. However, I'm not sure I would ever have him lead my #1 PK unit, which is fine, since that role is obviously filled (Bolland). But the fact of the matter remains that a center must be held to more defensive reponsibilities than his wingers. Granted, defense is a team responsbility, but you can't argue the fact that defense is vital when it comes the the center position, perhaps more so than the wings.

Kane is obviously one of, if not the most dangerous offensive threat on the Hawks roster. Will moving him to center flourish his already growing production totals? Or will it hinder his numbers to play out of his comfort zone and require him to adapt to new and/or additional responsibilities? Time will tell.

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Hawks face off against Detroit once again this Wednesday, Sept. 28th at the UC. This will be one of the two final preseason games played before the regular season kicks off.

Look for more of the veteran players to fill out the roster in these last few preseason games as we get closer to the Blackhawks first game of the season on October 7th against the Stars. Hawks brass have had enough time taking a look at prospects and final cuts will be made within the next week or so.

Their last preseason game will be against the Pens on Friday September 30th.

 

Hawk, Hawk, Hawk it up!

-Matt Cefalu

Follow me on Twitter - @MCBHawks

2 Comments

George Prax's picture

Obviously Quenneville and his staff know more about what Kane is capable of than us, but this seems more interesting than it should be. Kane's comfortable as a winger, whatever the needs of the team might be, why take one of the best players in the league out of their comfort zone? Especially considering how key Kane is to the Hawks success? Seems odd.

Matt Cefalu's picture

I agree. It really just seems to be something for Hawks fans to talk about until the season starts. I'm sure this kind of thing happens on other teams, but it doesn't get reported so everyone misses it. I'm guessing they'll try it for a game or two and it will be forgotten before the week is out.