CHICAGO -- Barry Trotz was just doing what he does when asked a question, which is giving his honest opinion about the subject.
Still, the Nashville Predators' coach seems to have caught the attention of the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks -- Patrick Kane in particular -- by offering his thoughts on the nine-game losing streak in February that caused the Hawks to slip from the top of the Western Conference to sixth.
Trotz was asked about it while Nashville was preparing to play the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 17 in the Motor City -- three days after the Preds beat the Hawks 3-2 in Nashville and one day after Chicago ended its skid by beating the New York Rangers 4-2 in Madison Square Garden.
Trotz told reporters he thought a big part of the Hawks' woes stemmed from too many forwards "cheating" to create offense and not playing a 200-foot game. He said "forwards" several times, but did single out Kane as one example.
"Kane had no speed, and thank God because when he gets rolling he's hard to stop," Trotz said. "I was actually happy that he was cheating [against us]. [Marian Hossa] was the one guy who was sort of playing a complete game and he ended up being the most dangerous guy all night -- and [Jonathan Toews] was the real deal. He was really trying to will that team that night. Some of the other guys were cheating too much - trying to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing, if you know what I mean."
Kane, it turns out, did know what he meant -- but still wasn't thrilled to hear it coming from the coach of a division rival.
"I think for me personally, you take offense to it for sure," Kane told NHL.com on Wednesday at the United Center after Chicago's morning skate. "It's one of those things that ... I'll be excited to play those guys again."
Kane, who has 14 goals and 36 assists in 64 games, compared the criticism to critical comments made in 2009 by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell -- then a Vancouver Canuck. Mitchell was quoted as saying that Kane "couldn't play five-on-five" when the Canucks and Hawks met in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals.
Kane wound up torching the Canucks for a hat trick in the deciding Game 6 of the series against Roberto Luongo.
"I know different things like that kind of pump me up a little bit, whether it was Willie Mitchell saying it in the playoffs a couple years ago or Trotz," Kane said. "[I'm] excited to play them again. That's for sure."
Does Kane feel there was any validity to what Trotz was talking about?
"Sometimes it catches your [attention] to hear that," Kane said. "He's probably been living real high this year with the way their team's been playing and the way their team's shaping up a little bit, but I don't know ... we've had a good team in the past and our team's done well, so it's kind of tough to criticize a team that's had some success in the past. That's where I think it kind of ticks you off. But I'm sure all of us will be ready to play that game."
The Hawks and Preds only have one more regular-season game left this season, on March 31 in Nashville, but there's always the possibility they could meet in the postseason -- if so, it would be a rematch of an intense first-round series in 2010 that preceded Chicago winning the Stanley Cup.
Kane, however, did say he's been doing some things differently on the ice since Chicago's losing streak.
"I'm trying to take more pucks to the net and make more plays," he said. "Speed's a big part of my game, so I'm definitely trying to incorporate that."