For Kane, maturing game leads to Lady Byng recognition

For Kane, maturing game leads to Lady Byng recognition
May 16, 2013, 3:15 pm

Game Date Location Time/Result
1 Wed., May 15 United Center (W) 4-1
2 Sat., May 18 United Center (L) 4-1
3 Mon., May 20 Joe Louis Arena (L) 3-1
4 Thurs., May 23 Joe Louis Arena L 1-0
5 Sat., May 25 United Center W 4-1
6* Mon., May 27 Joe Louis Arena TBD
7* Wed., May 29 United Center TBD
* If necessary | All times Central

There was a time in Patrick Kane’s career when bad penalties, and too many of them, were part of his game. But as his game has matured, those whistles have diminished. And on Thursday, Kane was honored for that great blend of skill and discipline.

Kane was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, along with the New York Islanders’ Matt Moulson and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. The award, voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, is given to the player exhibiting “the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

The latter part of that has never been an issue with Kane; his skill is on display on an almost nightly basis, and he has the highlight-reel goals and passes to show for it. Staying out of the box had been more of a problem. Kane logged 40 penalty minutes last season and 28 the season before; his highest was 52 minutes during his rookie season in 2007-08. But this season, Kane had a scant eight penalty minutes over 47 games.

Kane appreciated the recognition.

“Any time you’re up for an award it’s exciting,” he said. “I thought I had a chance at this one. It kind of speaks volumes in how my game’s gone since my rookie season. I took a lot of unnecessary penalties and I got that out of my game. It’s an honor for sure.”

[More: Blackhawks strike first, take Game 1 against Red Wings]

Coach Joel Quenneville has seen the improvement throughout Kane’s game these past few seasons, and especially this one.

“Kaner really progressed in his game this year,” he said. “Offensively, he had the puck more than he ever did. He seemed to be more aware positionally, technically, and our team came was complimented as well. There’s attention to both sides, and I thought he definitely improved his play in his own end. But his overall game was to a new level, and consistency made it a really good year for him.
 
Kane has spent time honing his game in all facets. He’s improved on the defensive side to go with all those offensive-minded moves. Being more disciplined, smarter on the ice, is just another part of that game maturation.

“You never want to take unnecessary penalties. One for sure I took was shooting the puck out of the rink,” he said. “(The award’s) got a different view from players now, and like they say (in the description), it’s ‘skill and sportsmanship put together.’ It’s an award you want to be up for, and it’s a great honor for sure.”