Patrick Kane entered Blackhawks training camp feeling less than fully healthy, as a nagging injury from the spring continues to bother him.
But he insists the undisclosed issue won’t affect his play this season.
“It’s something that’s not completely healed,” Kane said Thursday, admitting he did have some “worries” about it over the summer. “But I’m optimistic with where I’m going, and happy after today’s skate with how I felt.”
Kane’s scoring rate declined as last season went on — he tallied 42 points in the Hawks’ first 30 games but only 24 points (including only three goals) in the last 26 games — and the injury was thought to be a potential cause.
General manager Stan Bowman pointed out that most players feel discomfort in some part of their body at any given time.
“You want to always feel 100% all the time, so you can be at your best, but if you were to talk to all of our players, it’s rare when they feel 100%,” Bowman said. “There’s usually something that’s a little bit off… But Patrick never complained about it at all.”
Bowman added Kane’s injury hasn’t and won’t need surgery, at least not during his playing career.
The issue hasn’t visibly slowed down the 32-year-old star through the first two days of the training camp. The Hawks focused more on odd-man rushes and scrimmage-like drills Friday, and Kane looked every bit as dynamic as usual.
The issue also didn’t prevent Kane from continuing to work on his game during the offseason. He focused on “weight shifting to deceive the defenders” while skating, as well as “changing the angle and point of attack” of his shot to get pucks through traffic more easily.
Lankinen, Hardman on COVID list
Despite being 100% vaccinated, the Hawks will still be affected by the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols this season, and they didn’t have to wait long to realize that.
Goalie Kevin Lankinen and forward Mike Hardman were added Friday to the COVID-19 protocol list, meaning they either tested positive, received an unconfirmed positive or had a close contact test positive.
Goalie plan unclear
With Lankinen and Marc-Andre Fleury established as the Hawks’ NHL goalie rotation this season — “It’s pretty clear right now who the top two guys are,” Bowman said, in case there was any confusion — the Hawks have a dilemma with Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia.
Both will require waivers to be sent to the AHL, and both — particularly Subban — have enough previous NHL experience that another team could be intrigued enough to claim them.
The Hawks could either try to trade one or simply hope they slip through waivers. Bowman seemed to favor the latter plan Thursday.
“We’ll see how it shakes out; we’ll see how health goes,” he said. “You’re going to need to use at least three goalies this year — some years we’ve used four and five goalies — so having depth there is not a bad thing. But we haven’t spent too much time really listing them out in order.”
His reasoning was immediately backed up Friday by Lankinen’s news and by Delia — filling in for Lankinen with the first practice group — leaving the ice in discomfort after some laps.
Prospect goalie Arvid Soderblom is also in camp, but won’t require waivers.
Local TV schedule
NBC Sports Chicago will televise all 69 regular-season Hawks games not already chosen for national TV or exclusive online streaming rights, the team announced Friday.
Five of six preseason games will also air on NBC Sports Chicago, excluding the Oct. 2 game against the Blues in Kansas City (which is radio only).