Hawks Insider

Hawks' trade of franchise icon Kane signals end of era

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Kane

The dismantling of the Blackhawks' core from the dynasty era has been a slow process. 

  • Patrick Sharp was traded to Dallas after winning the 2015 Stanley Cup before re-signing in Chicago two years later for his final season.
  • Marian Hossa walked away from the game for health reasons in 2017, and Niklas Hjalmarsson was moved to Arizona just days later.
  • Brent Seabrook underwent three separate surgical operations in 2019 and never played another game.
  • The Blackhawks moved on from Corey Crawford in 2020 and he retired months later.
  • Duncan Keith was traded to Edmonton in 2021 to be closer to his son and then retired after one year there.

One by one, the key members of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup runs were broken off. But nothing stung more than the Blackhawks' trade of Patrick Kane, who was officially dealt on Tuesday night to the New York Rangers, where he will reunite with former linemate Artemi Panarin.

It felt inevitable that Kane would eventually waive his no-movement clause, given the state of the organization. Kyle Davidson declared a full-scale rebuild when he was hired as the Blackhawks' permanent general manager on March 1, 2022, and it has come to fruition before our very eyes.

"There are some things that we really need to fix that are going to take time," Davidson said that day.

The process started by shipping Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay in a package that included Chicago receiving two first-round picks. It was magnified when Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat were traded at the 2022 NHL Draft, and Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome weren't given qualifying offers.

The Blackhawks stripped down their roster to the bare bones in an effort to start from scratch and replenish their pipeline, so it was natural to wonder how that was going to impact Kane's future — and Jonathan Toews, for that matter, before his circumstance changed with his recent illness. 

Kane desperately wanted to play his entire career with the Blackhawks. He was looking for every reason to stay. But as the deadline got closer, it became apparent to him that the Blackhawks were much farther away from contending than he had hoped, and it was starting to hit him.

 

Perhaps the most frustrating part about Kane playing somewhere other than Chicago is that it could have been avoidable. The Blackhawks should have rebuilt on the fly in 2018 as the Boston Bruins did in 2014 and 2015 when they collected five combined first-round picks but instead chose to patch things up. It made things worse.

In the summer of 2018, Kane and Toews were 29 years old. A few hard years would have been more stomachable at that point, and they could have seen the other side of it while still playing at a high level.

Now, Kane and Toews are 34. They haven't won a playoff round since the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. A total tear-down doesn't sound as appealing to them at this stage of their careers. Who could blame them?

The reality is, Kane is about to become a member of the New York Rangers. It wasn't supposed to be this way but it is.

Nobody loved representing the Blackhawks more than Kane. He wanted to put on a show for the city of Chicago every time he stepped foot on the United Center ice. It's hard to find a better nickname for him than Showtime.

Maybe Kane comes back at some point down the road to finish his career in a Blackhawks sweater. It's too early to say. But his trade officially signals the end of the most memorable era in franchise history. What a run it was.

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