Talk about things coming out of left field. On Tuesday, it was announced that free agent and the top American player of all time Patrick Kane would be joining the Detroit Red Wings.
Kane has been spending the summer recovering from off-season hip surgery. During that time, he had to decide what team to choose.
Potential suitors for Kane’s services included his former team the New York Rangers, his hometown team the Buffalo Sabres, and other teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and Florida Panthers.
As a long-time Chicago Blackhawks player, signing with their one-time divisional rival seems like a heel turn to Blackhawks fans.
While the rest of us might not be personally betrayed by Kane’s choice of teams, here are a few theories we have for the surprising announcement.
There are a lot of reasons that Patrick Kane selected the Detroit Red Wings.
First is that this move gives Kane a chance to reunite with former Blackhawks teammate Alex DeBrincat. When Kane was traded to the Rangers, most expected he would find the same scoring magic he had with another Blackhawk turned Ranger in Artemi Panarin.
DeBrincat played five seasons with Kane in Chicago. They were in the post-dynasty years of 2017-2022. Panarin caught the tail end of the Blackhawks dynasty when they were still playoff contenders so his relationship with Kane gained more billing than any potential relationship between Kane and DeBrincat.
DeBrincat scored 307 points (160 goals and 147 assists) in his five seasons at the Madhouse on Madison. Those numbers likely would be higher if two of those seasons weren’t the shortened 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons. Debrincat has had great scoring success with Kane.
Kane should not expect to be given a top-line spot because he has to “earn” his spot. Alex DeBrincat plays on Detroit’s second line.
Putting Kane on that second-line right-wing spot might mean a demotion for Michael Rasmussen, but with only six points through twenty games so far, Kane would be an immediate upgrade.
Another theory we have is that Kane strongly believes in the “Yzerplan” that general manager Steve Yzerman has implemented for the rebuilding Red Wings.
Kane had some of his greatest career success while Yzerman was building the Tampa Bay Lightning into a Blackhawks-like mini-dynasty themselves. He even got a front-row seat to that when the Blackhawks faced off against Tampa Bay in the 2015 Stanley Cup final.
Emily Kaplan reported for ESPN that head coach Derek Lalonde’s “vision” for the team was a main selling point for Kane. Lalonde is the second coach of the Red Wings rebuild after Yzerman had previously inherited Jeff Blashill as his head coach. By some extension that does make Lalonde a part of the “Yzerplan”.
One last theory is that Kane had moved to Toronto to work on his post-surgery rehab. Despite meeting with the Maple Leafs, Eliotte Friedman even called it that a signing between the two was unlikely.
Detroit is as close to Toronto as you can get without actually being in Toronto. Perhaps the proximity to his rehab team and doctors tipped the scale in the Red Wing’s favor.
Fans have been patient with the Yzerplan, but patience might be running out. Kane’s signing adds an extra boost to the push to return to the playoffs. Detroit sits in a playoff spot in third place in the Atlantic Division.