The Chicago Blackhawks had another player announced as a finalist for an end-of-the-year award Thursday. Patrick Kane was named a finalist for the Lady Byng trophy, the prize awarded to the league's most sportsmanlike player.
Kane was announced as a finalist along with the Islanders' Matt Moulson and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis. This is causing some to point out that Kane does not belong in the company of these other two players.
Personally, I believe that St. Louis will come out of this with his third Lady Byng. However, the criticisms leveled at Kane are not so much about his play on the ice as his behavior off of it.
That's not just misguided—it's also not fair.
Look, Kane had just eight penalty minutes in the regular season. That doesn't necessarily earn him a sportsmanship trophy. On the other hand, people need to remember that this is an award given out to the NHL's model citizen—on the ice.
No one is denying that Kane has something of a checkered past when it comes to non-hockey activities. The point that is being missed is that the Lady Byng is a sportsmanship trophy, not a reflection of one's off-ice comportment.
Kane is still just 24 years old, though he has matured in regards to his play. If you want to point out that he is at times still quite the chirper, fine. It doesn't seem like there has been as much of that this season.
It is pool of the dirtiest variety to suggest that poor decisions made in the offseason should affect the way Kane handles himself on the ice.
Even if such transgressions were something to be considered, this is a yearly award that accounts for changes of heart. Stan Mikita won himself his first of two Lady Byngs just two seasons removed from a 154 penalty-minute campaign.
Stosh was a bit of a hothead on the ice who reformed into one of the game's classier skaters. Why doesn't Kane, or any player, get that kind of blank slate every season?
I can tolerate discussion on whether Kane deserves his status as a Lady Byng finalist. Just don't bring up knocks on the kid that didn't occur in game action.