Can Blackhawks Star Patrick Kane Repair His Image in Time to Save His Team?

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

Patrick Kane needs to step up his performance on the ice and stay clean off of it.
Patrick Kane needs to step up his performance on the ice and stay clean off of it.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He is the picture of pure excitement when he is on the ice in full flight.

Patrick Kane is all about speed, quickness, hand-eye coordination and blending all of those characteristics with a creativity that few players in the NHL can match.

The No. 1 pick in the 2007 NHL draft had a moment in his career that few other players will ever be able to duplicate.

Kane scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Blackhawks in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Finals. It was the Hawks' first Stanley Cup triumph in 49 years and it set off a celebration that turned the city on its ear.

Kane has demonstrated that he liked to celebrate himself. Whether it was getting into an altercation with a cab driver in his home city of Buffalo, taking provocative pictures with teammates in Vancouver or just showing that he knew how to have a good time, it was clear that Kane likes to party.

In Chicago, it was known as "Kaner being Kaner." (Note the hockey-style nickname.)

But while Kane demonstrated that he loved to enjoy himself during his off-time, his partying ways have led to questions about his commitment to his profession, his long-term health and potential problems with alcohol.

Those issues came into greater focus at the start of the offseason when Kane went to the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and decided to party with some of the students. Embarrassing photos of Kane were published on Deadspin and other websites which resulted in criticism of the athlete by fans and media members.

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was left in a quandary about what to do with Kane. On the one hand, they have a player with outstanding talent who has scored 20 or more goals in each of his five seasons. He is a 23-year-old player with 369 points in 399 career games. He has been good and he could get a lot better.

On the other hand, they have a player who has been involved in a number of embarrassing incidents off the ice. Kane claims awareness of some of his off-the-ice issues, but little has been done to prevent them from causing problems on a somewhat consistent basis.

At the Blackhawks' fan convention in July, Kane admitted that things had gone too far during his Wisconsin weekend. He has said that he doesn't want to have any more incidents that would result in additional embarrassment for the organization.

“I’m not going to really get into details, but there are definitely some precautions that you want to take, and I’m handling that myself,” Kane told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kane needs to do more than talk about those precautions. He needs to stay out of harm's way and refrain from drinking and partying in public. He's used up all his mulligans and can't bring any more shame to his team.

He also needs to step up his level of play. He's been good for the Blackhawks and there have even been a few moments of greatness; however, he has not been an elite player on a consistent basis.

If he can refrain from taking the walk of shame off the ice and improve his game on it, Kane can repair his image and become one of the Blackhawks' best and most productive players.

One more slip-up and the team may have to get serious with him and perhaps give him a new address.