Patrick Kane out 12 weeks; how will Chicago Blackhawks cope?

Patrick Kane out 12 weeks; how will Chicago Blackhawks cope?

The last day of the Chicago Blackhawks’ regular season is April 11. They’ll still have to wait over a month until star winger Patrick Kane returns.

Kane crashed into the boards against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night and did not return to the game, a shootout win for the Hawks. On Wednesday, the official word came down on his injury, from the team:

The Chicago Blackhawks announced today forward Patrick Kane underwent successful surgery to repair a left clavicle fracture. The procedure was performed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital by Blackhawks Head Team Physician Dr. Michael Terry and Dr. Bradley Merk.

“Patrick underwent successful surgery today to repair his left clavicle fracture,” Terry said. “The procedure went very well and we anticipate a full recovery in approximately 12 weeks.”

Twelve weeks from the date of surgery? That would be May 20, which could mean Chicago would be without Kane for the opening two rounds of the playoffs.

If the Blackhawks advance, that is.

Kane has been their best player: Tied with Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals with 64 points atop the league, while leading the Blackhawks with 27 goals. He was on track to challenge for scoring titles and the Hart Trophy. That campaign came crashing to a halt last night.

How will this impact the team? Well, there’s a difference between whether the Blackhawks can manage this loss and whether this loss scuttles their championship hopes.

They have 77 points in 61 games. The Winnipeg Jets have 73 in 62 games, so there’s a slim chance a damaged Blackhawks team could slip to the wild card. They have an nine-point lead over the teams outside the playoff bubble, so their standing as a playoff team shouldn’t change.

Can they still catch the St. Louis Blues for home ice in the first round? Tough call. Can they still beat the St. Louis Blues in the first round, who must be absolutely licking their chops at a shot against their arch rivals with said arch rivals’ best scorer out of the lineup? Tougher call.

Might the Blackhawks look to make a deal to fill Kane’s spot? It makes sense, if only because they can have that player and Kane on their playoff roster with no salary cap implications in the postseason.

The Blackhawks trade speculation machine, for a replacement at right wing, is already churning. Obviously Jaromir Jagr is going to get thrown around, given that his time in New Jersey’s about done. But he’s 43, and just doesn’t have the wheels for the kind of game the Blackhawks prefer.

His teammate, Michael Ryder, has done zilch for the Devils this season but has some sexy playoff numbers for his career.

Antoine Vermette might have already been on the Blackhawks’ radar before the injury, as a faceoff ace that can play good two-way hockey. He’s a versatile forward who could also be a huge one-two punch with Jonathan Toews. The price will be high. The Blackhawks might need to pay it to ensure that they’re still playing when Kane’s finally healthy.

The West just got a whole lot more interesting, that’s for sure. And a little less exciting on the ice.