Patrick Kane held the Conn Smythe Trophy over his head, and then got a chance to raise the Stanley Cup for the second time.
This time, the Chicago Blackhawks loved the pictures of their super talented forward.
Kane won the NHL’s playoff MVP award after he helped Chicago beat Boston 3-2 in Game 6 of the finals on Monday night. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft finished the postseason with nine goals and 10 assists, including a big series against the Bruins that was reminiscent of his performance when the Blackhawks won the title four seasons ago.
”We can go up and down the line and name off guys and how they contributed to this team and this game,” Kane said. ”It’s just a great group, and it’s going to be fun to celebrate with them.”
Kane was in the middle of a quiet postseason before he started to pick up steam in the Western Conference finals against defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles. He slammed home a shot by Bryan Bickell in Game 4 of that series that appeared to be going in anyway, and that seemed to really get him going.
He had a hat trick in Game 5 against the Kings, including the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory that sent the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup finals. He had a goal and an assist in Chicago’s series-tying victory at Boston on Wednesday night, and then scored twice when the Blackhawks beat the Bruins 3-1 on Saturday to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
”When he’s playing with the puck, he’s so dynamic and skilled and fun to watch,” Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. ”Sometimes we watch him a little bit too much. But he’s a great player and once he started to get it into gear he was going to be lights out. He was lights out in this series and the last couple games against L.A.”
It’s quite a change from the end of last season, when Internet photos of Kane partying in Madison, Wis., led to renewed questions about his makeup. He also was arrested in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009 after an altercation with a cab driver.
General manager Stan Bowman said last May the team had talked to Kane about the pictures, and they handled the situation internally.
But Kane still entered this year with something to prove, and he was one of the NHL’s top players from start to finish, helping the Blackhawks to the league’s best record. He is the third straight American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and just the fourth U.S. player overall.
”It’s much deserved,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who was the playoff MVP in 2010. ”There’s a lot of guys in that room that could have won that. I don’t think there’s anyone better than him, the way he played down the stretch. We wouldn’t be here without him.”
Kane, a three-time All-Star, played for Biel in Switzerland’s top division during the lockout, so he had a head start on much of the league when the players and owners reached a new labor deal in January. He also had a healthy offseason after undergoing surgery to repair a broken left wrist in July 2011.
He finished the regular season with 23 goals, matching Toews for the team lead, and led the Blackhawks with 32 assists and 55 points. He also showed improved ability on defense, helping turn Chicago into one of the stingiest teams in the league.
Kane, who played without his trademark mouth guard after going without one in Switzerland, has long been one of the most popular Blackhawks, both for his fun-loving image and his considerable ability on the ice. He had the winning goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup against Philadelphia, lifting the franchise to its first championship since 1961.