As was posted in our Morning Links, and then got linked to by Puck Daddy, Kaner’s retrospective on CSN last night drew some attention for showing a little bit of an emotional side regarding the support of his family and teammates and organization after that….whathaveya last spring in Madison.
I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that we’ve written about Kaner more than any other player on this blog in the 5+ years we’ve been doing it (this does not include all the sonnets McClure writes about Sharp on his own and quite possibly in his sleep). Kaner’s never far from the forefront a story’s headline when he’s not actually it himself. On the ice and a lot of times off it, it seems you just can’t keep your eyes off of him.
Our feelings on Kane always seem to get mixed up. I know I’ve spent more time defending him than anyone and yet there are still a lot out there who think I hate him. It’s the same for McClure and Killion. All of us think we are blessed to get to watch him on a nightly basis, because quite simply the Hawks have not had anyone like him in our lifetimes (sorry Mr. Savard, but my description of Kane as, “the most talented Hawks since Savvy” is probably getting updated to beyond that soon). A lot of other fans feel the same.
Most people think our feelings on Kane were colored by his nightlife reputation. That’s not entirely true. It’s not what he’s doing but how he’s doing it. We’re drinking snobs, after all. But in all honesty, I think all the writers on this blog don’t give a shit what goes on away from the ice, short of crimes and effecting the job they’re paid to do. Some people like to know where players live and where they are, and that’s cool, too.
But I think, for really no reason, that one of the reasons Kane is always in the news and with eyes on him, is because he’s pretty much all of us.
Let me try and explain. When I was criticizing Kane’s off-ice shenanigans, I got a lot of people throwing at me the, “You’d be exactly the same way if you were him!” Well of course I would be. In fact, I was at that age, minus the money, the looks, the physical shape, or any of the sex. But I bet I cried into my beer way more than Kaner!
So of course I get it. But along with that wild life in my early 20′s, I would also expect admonishment from employers and elders, and I got them. Believe me, my father wasn’t always pleased when I was still living at home and was racking up the consecutive roll-ins at 4am, even though he let me have my space. Bosses were less thrilled. One of the unique aspects of this blog and job is that our alcoholism enhances our ability to write (so we tell ourselves), but if the quality dipped in my writing significantly because I couldn’t stop falling down, you’d let me know (insert your joke about our grammar and typos here, and then go fuck yourself).
And you probably went through it, too. Kaner’s case is just magnified and blown out more because of his job and status. Remember, hockey prodigies have a much different growth than players in other sports in this country, for the most part. Kaner left home when he was what, 14? He didn’t have a traditional high school, no college. His life has been hockey since his balls dropped, essentially. Compare that with Toews who had something of a normal high school experience (boarding school at Shattuck St. Mary’s) and then a year of college at least.
Not only was Kaner’s arrival the first time he was on his own, it was probably the first time he had to create a life outside of hockey at all. Missteps are easy to make.
Just as easy as it is to identify with all that, it’s easy to identify with Kane’s growth and rising maturity. Hey, we all get older. Vomiting on yourself gets old. You start to want other things (so I’m told, I’m still pretty pleased with vomiting on myself in my 30s). It feels like Kaner is grasping that he’s got a chance to be more than just famous here.
Let’s say the Hawks bring in another Cup or two in this era (not a totally ridiculous suggestion at this point). Look at how those members of the Bulls are treated in town and in NBA lore. Not just Jordan and Pippen. You’re not just famous. You’re historic. You begin to transcend something more than just an athlete in this town (Jordan, Santo, Butkus, Payton to name a few) It seems that Kane is eager to grasp onto that.
Or maybe it’s just so easy to see ourselves in Kane. He plays the game with as much bounce in his step as we would. He’s got a “I’ll fucking show you” streak that a lot of us have had after various slights growing up (mostly in high school, if I had to guess where a majority’s come from). Yeah, Kane’s definitely a chad but there is something about him that does appeal to all the outcasts and punks of our younger days. He’s taken all the steps we did, and might take more.
And he’s ours. And that’s a gift.