100 years is a damn long time. When someone turns 100 years old Smuckers puts their picture on a bottle of their world famous jam. 100 years is ten terms of ten years, or two terms of 50 years. But that’s enough for the math lessons.
The point that should be hammered home is that a lot can happen in 100 years, obviously. So when Patrick Kane was awarded the Hart trophy as NHL MVP it came as a surprise to some that he was the first American born player to ever receive it. Back in 1917 the NHL held its inaugural season, I’m sure they imagined at some point an American would have his day as MVP. Well, it took a player of Kane’s caliber to get it done.
Aside from the fact that the league was shoving the expansion to Las Vegas down our throats at last nights NHL Awards it was also obvious that Kane also relished the moment.
America has produced plenty of notable players who have made it to the Hall of Fame. The first of which being Frank Brimsek in 1966. However, after him was a notable gap. 2009 saw Brett Hull and Brian Leetch get their names in Toronto, still that was a 46 year waiting period between players. Although it should be noted that since 2009 Americans have been honored almost annually. The fact remains is that Kane is unlike anything we’ve seen since Hull or Modano.
What separates Patrick Kane from the pack is the hardware. The former rookie of the year has won three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He was named playoff MVP in 2013 and last night at the NHL awards he took home the Hart as league MVP, the Art Ross for leading the league in points and finally the Ted Lindsay for being the most outstanding player in the regular season as voted on by his peers. He trailed Alex Ovechkin for the Rocket Richard trophy by just four goals. While his Blackhawks failed to defend their title, at just 27 years old the core of Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrook and Panarin (who won rookie of the year last night as well) have plenty of potential titles on the horizon.
Clutch is his middle name, after all he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime of game 6 in 2010. 2013 he scored a hat trick in game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings to advance to the Cup Final. In 2015 he single handedly dismantled the defensive structure of the Tampa Bay Lightning that was Tailor-made to stop the Blackhawks organized attack. In doing so propelled his team to their third title in five years.
Brett Hull had an uncanny ability to get the puck off his stick in the blink of an eye. As quickly as it was on his stick it was off and it was as hard as anyone in the league. Mike Modano could take the puck from behind his own net, dance around your entire team and flat out embarrass your goaltender. Patrick Kane? He can do both of those things.
International glory however has eluded Kane. In two Olympic appearances (2010, 2014) representing his country he has only a silver medal. Which infamously came after losing to Canada in the 2010 gold medal game.
Its difficult if not flat out impossible to argue that Patrick Kane as of right now is the best American Born player to ever live. Accompanied by Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews the ‘big three’ for team USA in the future is a formidable one to say the very least. That is if the NHL will even be allowed to loan players for the Olympics come 2018.
One thing that remains without question is the influx of American players into the hall of fame is a direct result of the games popularity increasing over the last 30 years. Men like Kane, Eichel and soon to be Maple Leaf Auston Matthews are a direct result of that.
Regardless Kane is making a strong argument for himself to be viewed as one of the all time greats, nationality aside. At this rate you’ll be foolish to believe otherwise.