Chicago Sun-Times

Sharp's status has nothing to do with Kane at center

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The idea of playing Patrick Kane -- one of the best wingers in the NHL -- at center raised a lot of eyebrows for its unexpectedness, but also concerns for do-everything Patrick Sharp.

Sharp, who has played center and wing successfully in the past, has been sidelined since undergoing an emergency appendectomy just days before training camp began for the Blackhawks.

But coach Joel Quenneville insists the two are unrelated.

"Not really, no," Quenneville said when asked. "I think we were going to try that anyways going into training camp. That's kind of where we're at with it."

Kane said general manager Stan Bowman approached him about playing center this summer. He did play center with the London Knights when he was a star in the Ontario Hockey League.

"I'm willing to try it out, I guess, and see if it works or not," Kane said. "We'll try it for a couple [exhibition] games and see how it goes. ... I think it's something they wanted to try. It's preseason. So why not?"

Former coach Denis Savard tried Kane at center three years ago in the preseason, but that didn't pan out. It actually just lasted one preseason game.

"It was after my first year, and it was something they kind of wanted to try, but I think in the back of their minds I don't think they really thought it was going to work," said Kane, who may play Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. "It didn't last very long. But they are kind of willing to try it again. I've played center for a lot of my life, but obviously I'm pretty comfortable on the wing."

What the Hawks hope to see is Kane's passing abilities reach another level being in the middle. Yet, there are concerns how he could handle the defensive assignments and responsibilities centers have.

During practice Monday, Quenneville stopped to correct the positioning of Kane, who had gotten too far down the ice during a breakout drill. Quenneville also said he believes the shift from wing to center isn't overwhelming in the Hawks' system. Kane practiced Monday on a line with Marian Hossa and Andrew Brunette.

"He's welcoming the challenge," Quenneville said. "You like guys that want the puck. Guys that have good patience with it, anticipate what their wingers are up to and see plays before they actually happen, and that's one of his strengths. A lot of the time Kaner is coming up the middle with the puck."

Quenneville said the Hawks will probably start the season with Sharp on the wing. He skated for the first time since his surgery on Sunday -- albeit apart from his teammates. He also skated Monday and is planning to Tuesday.

"We'll get a better indication after that how close he is jumping on with us," Quenneville said.

Jeremy Morin (concussion) is yet to be cleared for full contact, but continues to practice. Daniel Carcillo (flu) and Rob Klinkhammer (undisclosed injury) didn't practice Monday. Brett McLean was put on waivers, while forwards Kyle Beach, Jimmy Hayes, and Peter LeBlanc and defensemen Brian Connelly and Joe Lavin were sent to Rockford.

Here were the lines at practice Monday:

Saad -- Toews -- Stalberg

Brunette -- Kane -- Hossa

Bickell -- Bolland -- Frolik

Smith -- Pirri -- Mayers

Olesz -- Kruger -- Morin

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About the blogger

Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times since 2005, covering the Hawks since 2009. He's also helped cover the Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.


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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on September 26, 2011 1:09 PM.

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