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Every Wednesday during the offseason, the CHGO Blackhawks crew will give their evaluations of the 2021-22 Blackhawks. We’ll be using our “feather system.” Four feathers = an A, three feathers = a B, and so on.
This week, we’re reviewing the Blackhawks two biggest stars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Patrick Kane Analysis
Jay Zawaski: What more can you say about Patrick Kane? Somehow, after 15 NHL seasons, the dynamic winger might be playing the best all-around hockey of his career. No matter the linemate, no matter the opponent, Kane remains one of the most consistent and dependable players. Sure, he’ll occasionally skate like he has a piano on his back when it’s time to defend, but I’ll let it slide because he does everything else so well. Unlike Toews, he handled the controversies and rebuild much better than Toews. The story for the majority of next season will be the futures of Kane and Toews, but for now, let’s enjoy a fantastic player while he’s still in Chicago.
Mario Tirabassi: The other of the two four-feather deserving players on the Blackhawks this season, Patrick Kane did everything he could to live up to his end of the bargain when the team tried to be a playoff contender last season. He posted his third-best season of his career with a ho-hum 92 points on a team that finished squarely in the bottom-third of the league. He met expectations and even exceeded them in his 15th NHL season. He couldn’t do much more to drag the team to any kind of success. He also handled the descent into rebuild better than others.
Greg Boysen: When the season started, the expectations were higher than they had been in quite some time. One of the few players to live up to those expectations was Kane. The team went as he and the now departed (not dead, just traded) Alex DeBrincat went. They both needed a trip to the chiropractor after carrying the 2021-22 Blackhawks on their backs.I was originally going to give Kane 3.5 Feathers, mainly because of an extended stint of the season where he looked like he lost his scoring touch. From Nov. 20 to Jan. 23, Kane had just three goals in 27 games. However, he was still putting up points with 18 assists in that span. Despite this rough stretch, he finished the season by tying his career-high in helpers and his third highest point total. The one element of Kane’s season that made him a 4-feather player was his overall attitude. He said all the right things after the trade of Brandon Hagel and the obvious direction of the team. He never made it about him or expressed any kind of anger. He handled in like a pro.
Jonathan Toews Analysis:
It’s important to remember that these grades come graded on a curve of expectations. Well, no one was really sure what to expect from Toews. He started the season with a 26 game goalless streak, but seemed to find his footing later in the year. Even with the slight improvement in his performance, this was not the Toews people had hoped for. Now, he was coming off missing an entire season with a mysterious illness, and recently told The Athletic he is just now starting to feel like himself. Honestly, with all of those things considered, I’m not terribly upset with his on-ice season. It’s off the ice where Toews let me down. Several times during the season, he put his foot in his mouth. When Stan Bowman “resigned” for his lack of action during the Kyle Beach sexual assault, Toews took the opportunity to basically say, “Stan was good to me so this isn’t fair to him.” It was completely tone-deaf and required “clarification” days later. After the Hawks started making some deals, instead of taking the high road in the media, Toews let his disappointment be known. For someone who was once known as the “best leader in hockey,” Toews failed in that department last season. I do think with the addition on Luke Richardson, and an offseason to get on the same page with Davidson and company, Toews will have a better idea of how to handle this season, should he decide to stay. Let’s hope so, because the last thing the Blackhawks need is a pouting captain.
Mario: A player that had low, high, and no expectations on him heading into this season, Jonathan Toews had his worst season of his NHL career last year. Not the comeback he or many other envisioned. Granted, the back-half of the year started to put things together for Toews as he started to look like he wasn’t fighting himself and his body as much, but it was way too late in the season to try to save anything. His handling of the descent into rebuild, along with comments about Stan Bowman on his way out the door, did nothing to help his legacy as one of the best team leaders in the NHL. Pairing those on and off-ice expectations not being met, I have Toews a two-feather rating. I wanted more from him as someone who has worn a ‘C’ for almost his entire career.
Greg: Toews had the benefit of entering the season with zero expectations. Nobody knew, including Toews himself, what we were going to see after he missed the entire 2020-21 season. He certainly looked like a player that hadn’t played in a while. It took him 26 games to finally find the back of the net. He finished with a career-low 12 goals, 25 assists, and 37 points. He was a -14, just the third time he was a minus player in his career. All three of those occasions came within the last four seasons. There were a lot of factors into these low numbers. The first being the time away from the game. Another is that he never got a ton of production on his line, especially after Brandon Hagel was traded in March. Finally, all the years of playing Jonathan Toews style of hockey is finally catching up to the captain.Unlike Kane, Toews’ handling of the off-ice issues was disappointing. He botched his comments following Stan Bowman’s resignation. He didn’t come off as a great leader after the trade deadline. This is new territory for Toews, who never had to face so much adversity in one season before. Hopefully, some time away and a connection with Luke Richardson will get the veteran into a different frame of mind heading into the first season of this rebuild.
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