Tuesday, February 24, 2015: a night to remember in the City of Wind. It was a weird evening in Chicago as the city saw not one, but two of their professional sports’ stars go down with long-term injuries: Derrick Rose, the fragile, former NBA Most Valuable Player and superstar, offensive wizard, Patrick Kane both went down on Tuesday.
As of this writing, there’s slight optimism for Rose to come back sooner rather than later, depending on which knee operation he elects. For Kane, however, a much more concrete timetable has been established:
— HockeyNightInCanada (@hockeynight) February 26, 2015
If Kane had a slim chance to return to the team for a deep playoff run this season, those odds became even more minute after successful surgery to fix his broken clavicle will sideline the uber-talented player for about three months. The Blackhawks had been struggling of late even with Kane in the lineup, now see their Stanley Cup hopes all but vanish for this season.
Aside from trying to achieve a team goal of winning another title going into these playoffs, Kane was attempting to become the first American-born player to win the Art Ross trophy. Arguably their most consistent player, Kane was beginning to improve his defensive work and was growing into an exemplary player, both on and off the ice.
Before there was Johnny Manziel, Kane was known as the party boy of professional sports, especially in Chicago. His antics were met with heavy criticism and accompanied with a lot of concern regarding his immaturity and being able to shed his reputation of being a habitual drunkard that is constantly finding himself in embarrassing situations.
Eventually, Kane would rid himself of that reputation and the team rewarded him (and teammate Jonathan Toews) with a long-term contract in the summer of 2014 to continue to be a key component of the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization for years to come.
Besides being one of the most creative players in the NHL, Kane was also one of the most durable despite his size. Hockey’s version and answer to Allen Iverson, Kane had played in 96 percent of the Blackhawks’ scheduled games. Standing at 5-foot-11, 181 lbs., it is a remarkable feat that he is able to miss very little time due to injury. Of course, that all changed on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers, when defenseman Alex Petrovic (6-foot-4, 205 lbs) checked Kane into the boards:
Though many hockey purists would say that the hit was not dirty, hard, or vicious, the fact of the matter is, a much bigger player hit the smaller Kane into the boards, causing him to land on his shoulder, and breaking his clavicle in the process: simple science, primitive physics, utterly unfortunate for both team and player.
While that is going on at the United Center’s ice, it’s the same, old, familiar story on the arena’s hardwood court. Once again, Derrick Rose is facing another knee injury. If there’s a feeling of deja vu here, the reasons are obvious. We discussed all of this the first time Rose injured his right knee:
Derrick Rose‘s triumphant return to basketball for the 2013-2014 season was cut short after only 11 games. Rose will be out indefinitely after a recent MRI showed a torn meniscus in his right knee that will require surgery.
Another year, another injury.
Reports indicate that the injury is not as bad this time around. Nevertheless, another knee injury for Rose is not what both the individual and the Chicago Bulls need right now. The Bulls were already struggling with Rose in the lineup as defensively they looked more awkward than what we’re used to seeing from a Tom Thibodeau team. Offensively, despite more talent on the court, the team has not looked very fluid on that side of the ball.
Rose was having an inconsistent year before the injury. The way people used to describe former Chicago Bears’ legend, Gale Sayers, after he had returned from his brutal knee injury, they used to talk about being able to see “flashes” of Sayers’ greatness. The same applied to Rose this season:
The idea that Rose would work and play his way back to the MVP-caliber player we witnessed before the knee injuries has officially died with this news. We would see flashes of the old Rose here and there, but we can finally close the chapter on the hope he can return to that elite level. Gone are the days where Rose could blast by opponents with his speed, out-jump defenders with his hops, and maneuver his way through the paint by side-winding and twisting and turning his body against much bigger opponents. That Rose is long gone and left in our memories and YouTube videos.
One thing to understand is that Rose was a gift from the basketball gods (or David Stern…depends who you talk to). The Bulls had a nice team after years of frustrating rebuilding processes, but one that lacked star power; a franchise player not seen since the days of Michael Jordan. As luck would have it, there was a local kid from the South Side of Chicago, getting ready to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft. The local NBA franchise just so happened to have the number one pick overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. It was a match made in basketball heaven. The Bulls finally had their heir apparent, the answer to all of their problems, the next player that would finally help the team bridge the Jordan era into the future. An era that promised glory much like the one experienced when Jordan ruled the NBA. It was destiny!
Those holding out hope for that dream to be fulfilled can finally wake up. That dream will never come to fruition. Rose will not become the closest thing to Jordan. Instead, he will go down on another list of amazing players who succumbed to the perils of knee injuries, from Bernard King to Brandon Roy. Along with the unfulfilled promise, the Bulls’ championship window can now be closed for the rest of this frigid winter.
And that is the most frustrating part about the injuries to both players. Both teams were supposed to be the best built to win a championship this year. No matter how good other teams may be is not what matters. The fact that both teams were supposed to put up a hard fight at a championship run is what made both the Bulls and Blackhawks the teams that the city desperately needed to succeed after experiencing a brutal season of Chicago Bears’ football and reluctant hope from both of its baseball teams. Without Rose and Kane, these championship aspirations for their respective playoff seasons are now microscopic at best.