The Chicago Blackhawks have had a change of fortune in recent weeks.
After losing nine straight the Blackhawks have bounced back nicely going 7-3 in their last 10 games. Two of those wins came in regulation against the Detroit Red Wings. But more importantly four of those wins came without the help of Jonathan Toews.
Toews, who is still ailing from an "upper-body" injury, will not play in any of the games on the Blackhawks' current road trip. Worse yet, it is still unknown when he can resume playing with the team.
So whose job is it to step up in the locker room and take over as the leader and captain during Toews' absence?
There are many veteran leaders in the Blackhawks locker room, but one player that must stand up and lead the way is Patrick Kane—not only on the ice in production and defense, but in the locker room as a Blackhawks captain.
As one of the core members from the Stanley Cup team, the time has come for Kane to step up and lead the Blackhawks into the playoffs.
Lately Kane has increased his production and is flying on the ice with the puck. He is trying to hit open teammates, looking more at ease with the puck and taking full advantage of his time on the ice.
The new shift in Kane's game has kept those calling for a trade quiet and has been a shining light for a Blackhawks team that is ailing from injuries.
In an interview with ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Kane said that he's just trying to have fun out there when on the ice.
Can Patrick Kane fill the leadership role with Jonathan Toews out?
“We were having fun with it during it too,” Kane laughed after practice in Detroit on Saturday. “We were on the bench there in the third shaking our heads, laughing that nothing went in for us. There will be games like that, but if you play like that every night you’re definitely going to get some results.”
With Kane taking a position of leadership on the team it is important that he play like the superstar that fans expect him to become. With Kane being able to do that, the Blackhawks might have a chance at making the playoffs even if Toews doesn't come back.
It's really nice to know that Kane could be a leader on the ice. It's even nicer to know that he is accomplishing all this playing as a center, allowing a spark of optimism that he can handle the offensive and defensive responsibilities of the position.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville even acknowledged Kane as being a leader on the ice.
"The effectiveness of what he did for our team game and for his game was amazing,” Quenneville said. “He’s showing leadership, in that game at home against Toronto. Last [Friday] night he took it to another level. Hopefully that can be the standard from here on out.”
When all is said and done the difference between the Blackhawks making the playoffs and not making them might be within how well Kane leads this team. Only time will tell.