BOSTON (AP) — A year ago, the Chicago Blackhawks had to answer questions about Patrick Kane’s maturity.
This season, Kane is the most valuable player of the NHL playoffs.
Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, had three goals and an assist as Chicago won the final three games against Boston, wrapping up the title with a stunning 3-2 victory in Game 6. He finished with nine goals and 10 assists for the playoffs, good enough to edge forward Patrick Sharp and goaltender Corey Crawford for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
It’s quite a change from the end of last season, when Internet photos of Kane partying in Madison, Wis., led to renewed questions about his makeup. He also was arrested in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009 after an altercation with a cab driver.
He entered this year with something to prove, and he was one of the NHL’s top players from start to finish, helping the Blackhawks to the league’s best record.
Kane, a three-time All-Star, played for Biel in Switzerland’s top division during the lockout, so he had a head start on much of the league when the players and owners reached a new labor deal in January. He also had a healthy offseason after undergoing surgery to repair a broken left wrist in July 2011.
He finished the regular season with 23 goals, matching Jonathan Toews for the team lead, and led the Blackhawks with 32 assists and 55 points. He also showed improved ability on defense, helping turn Chicago into one of the stingiest teams in the league.
Kane, who played without his trademark mouth guard after going without one in Switzerland, has long been one of the most popular Blackhawks, both for his fun-loving image and his considerable ability on the ice. He had the winning goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup against Philadelphia, lifting the franchise to its first championship since 1961.