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NHL commentary: With lockout lifted, Kane trade talk resumes

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane fends off the Florida Panther and former Blackhawk Brian Campbell during the first period of a game last January at the United Center in Chicago.
Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane fends off the Florida Panther and former Blackhawk Brian Campbell during the first period of a game last January at the United Center in Chicago.

Now, where was I before Gary Bettman unanimously captured the Moron of the Millenium championship?

Oh yeah. Patrick Kane, second-line center. And Patrick Kane, trade bait.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman contends that Kane can play center behind Jonathan Toews, and I’m thinking, Bowman is either trying to get coach Joel Quenneville fired or he has a plan to “clownsize’’ the organization.

If Kane could do the things all the good centers can do, the Hawks never would’ve moved him back to wing.

Bowman’s season-long inability to deliver a No. 2 center marked his greatest failure. He forced Quenneville to stick wingers and inadequate centers in the middle, most notably Kane.

That worked sporadically during the regular season. It didn’t work in the playoffs, during which Kane had one more goal than you or me. That’s as many postseason goals as Coyotes criminal Raffi Torres scored.

Kane’s total averages out to about $10 million per postseason goal in the 13 games since he snapped a puck into Hawks history. In 2010.

If Bowman was going to abdicate responsibility in adding a No. 2 center, then he at least could’ve brought in a top-six winger. He didn’t.

I’m bringing up this issue not just because Bowman failed as badly as Kane, but because their continued failures likely will become acutely painful in this post-lockout world.

The 48- or 50-game schedule will be condensed similar to the 2009-10 Olympic-interrupted season, when teams were forced to play bunches of games with 1 day off, then do it again. Those demands placed a premium on depth, and nobody had more than the Hawks.

But the salary-cap world cost the Hawks that valuable depth, and they haven’t won a playoff series since.

The lack of depth starts at center, the most important forward position. The lack of depth extends to the top six forwards, but the Hawks can’t count to six. Worse, two of their best players, Toews and Marian Hossa, are coming back from concussions.

Which means they are merely between concussions. Which will place a premium at center depth. That will highlight Kane’s shortcomings.

Toews is phenomenal on faceoffs. Kane isn’t. Toews and Hossa kill penalties. Kane can’t. Toews and Hossa work the middle of the ice as well as the boards. Kane can’t.

Condensed seasons create sloppy play. Mistakes come from fatigue. Special teams are vital. If Toews or Hossa suffers a concussion again – and I think it’s unavoidable for at least one of them – then the Hawks’ penalty killing could cost them games. The lack of total top-end talent could cost them a playoff spot.

That’s why you have to think about trading Kane.

The Islanders are bad and will be until they fold. Maybe they’d swap Kane for John Tavares. I doubt it, but I’d call.

Maybe the Sharks think Joe Pavelski is expendable because of Logan Couture. Probably not, but I’d call San Jose, too.

And Carolina. Is Eric Staal available? I could market the HurriKanes.

There are a lot of centers who are better than Kane, but they might be available because they don’t have Kane’s flash.

Kane is that shiny thing other teams could market to fans who don’t realize the only category Kane ranked in the top 10 last season was overrated. And maybe overserved.

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