Patrick Kane said he enjoyed playing center this season, felt comfortable with it and played some of his best games there.
Thats good, because it sounds like the Blackhawks are figuring hes their No. 2 center moving forward.
The question of the Blackhawks needing a No. 2 center was asked quite a bit this season. But general manager Stan Bowman believes the team already has that in Kane. And he said that Kanes play there, either at No. 2 or at No. 1 when Jonathan Toews was absent, was a big reason why the Blackhawks got into the playoffs this season.
He carried our team the last month of the season, put us on his back and got us into the playoffs, Bowman said of Kane. We had tough times, we had gone through prolonged losing streak, the pressure was on and he stepped up to be our No. 1 center. The notion he cant play center or isnt good there has been dispelled. Not only did our team play well, he played well.
Coach Joel Quenneville announced it during a preseason game in Detroit that they would try Kane at center entering this season, and it was a surprise to hear. But theres no doubt that Kane handled the pressure of the position well. He and Marian Hossa built up good chemistry on a line together, and Kane had 24 points in his first 25 games at center.
So if hes back there again next season, and it certainly sounds like he will be, hes fine with that.
I come up the ice with a lot of speed in the middle, and its natural for me to do that anyway, Kane said today. When I was at wing I played like a center anyway, come back to get the puck and get up ice. Sometimes its exciting to play new positions, so it doesnt matter to me. When you look at this year, when the team was successful, I was at center.
So Kane will probably prepare for center, which will be a bit different than all the seasons he prepped for wing. Faceoffs were an issue Kane was around 42 percent this season. And Kane said he needs to get stronger overall.
Yeah, playing center obviously youre down low more, so I want to get stronger there. But it doesnt change much, Kane said. The biggest thing for me is, Im healthy going into this offseason. There are no problems; Im going right in and working on my body. Last summer I had surgery (on my wrist) and other problems. Now Im excited about just being healthy.
And the Blackhawks are apparently set in moving forward with Kane at center. Hes proven he can do it. Whether or not hes the full-time answer there is still the question.