There are many reasons that we could point at for being significant factors in the Blackhawks success this year. I would like to take a moment to focus on a specific one called maturity, talk about why I think it was huge, and the player who showed the most improvement in this area by committing to his team, family, and I guess even Chicago.
It has been said, but maybe not enough, that Patrick Kane's improvement this season was a huge factor in the resulting Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks organization this year. At last year's Hawks Convention, Kaner was apologizing for inappropriate behavior surrounding Cinco de Mayo, pictures, and a few other instances of bad judgement. It was a huge topic of conversation at the time, but even more important was that Kane's performance on the ice was not measuring up to his potential. Many, including myself, saw a deadspin that justified talks of a trade a significant amount of doubt for his commitment to hockey. Thankfully, Kane proved myself wrong, and proved something even more important to himself.
The turn around that Kane has shown on and off the ice is worthy of much praise. I might go as far to say that without it, the Hawks fall very far short of their successes this year. His 55 points in 47 games this season, and team leading 19 points in the playoffs are one thing. His growth as an individual and maturing as a player/person is something I find to be reflective of the entire team, and a huge reason why I didn't have much complaint about his Conn Smythe trophy win.
I want to preface here that getting the NHL is a truly difficult and costly experience. Kane had more than given enough to even get drafted, but as the rewards are so very high, sometimes just getting there is not enough. I understand what could lead such a young and successful player to fall off the horse, but that doesn't mean it is okay. Kane persevered.
Kane was allowed the freedom and enough of a direction by the organization to figure out his priorities and find a healthier path. They allowed him to fail, provided just enough cover, and most likely the encouragement he needed, which was obviously supported by the strong family system Kane often refers back to, and also the prolonged break between seasons. Still, in only a few months, Kane seemed to find himself and thankfully for the Hawks organization it was a mature self.
There is an air of maturity within this team's roster that in my opinion, provides enough reason to consider them top contenders for the foreseeable future. It is evident in their record setting run to begin the season, and in the many ways they find ways to win. Sure, that maturity was tested by the Red Wings, when they went after the epicenter of that maturity, but Toews and his Hawks found it when they needed it most.
This team has shown amazing composure, by waiting for the right moments to attack, staying in games they maybe had no right to be in anymore, and showing a lot of confidence in their teammates to get the job done when it needed to be. This is maturity beyond what I have seen from most of the NHL. They are also very wise now, with their 2 Cups in 4 years, having gone through a rebuild, hitting the bottom and then climbing back up to the peak. This teaches character which only serves to strengthen their resolve.
I wouldn't hesitate to give a lot of credit to the captain that embodies a lot of what I just mentioned, but credit must also fall in Q's direction as well. For all the complaints I have, his maturity in some tough and interesting situations was a large factor in this season. How he handled the team when they were setting records, and how he helped his team respond to the Wings is a sign of maturity. He visibly handles this team well, and promotes the right ideals. It is just his follow through and stick-to-it-ness that rubs me the wrong way so often. But, this is not a post for complaints. It is a celebration of the maturity the Hawks showed this year, and how it will surely help bring about future successes.
Filed under: View from the Bench