© 2023 BSN LIVE, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I’ve been covering hockey for a long time. Patrick Kane had been a Blackhawk for a long time. The first Chicago Blackhawks event I officially covered for 670 The Score was June 22, 2007. If that date doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s the day then GM Dale Tallon stepped to the podium and said, “We proudly select…from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League…Patrick Kane.”
That was 5,730 days ago.
My career covering the Blackhawks has run parallel with Patrick Kane’s, and while I’ve flapped my gums about the trade itself, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on my time covering Kane.
What’s amazing to me, thinking back to draft night, was that there was some question whether or not Kane should be the pick. James Van Riemsdyk and Kyle Turris were also in the conversation, as silly as that seems now. The Hawks knew, though, that Kane was special. “As soon as we won the lottery we knew who we would be taking,” said Mark Kelley, then director of scouting for the Blackhawks.
Kane was special from the moment he made his NHL debut in 2007. He started his career with 10 points in his first 10 games and ended his rookie season with 72 points in 82 games and the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.
While he was electric on the ice, off the ice, concerns were beginning. In August of 2009, Kane and his cousin James Kane were arrested after an altercation with a Buffalo cab driver over 20 cents. Five months later, Kane and his teammates John Madden and Kris Versteeg were photographed shirtless and drinking with women in a Vancouver limo. There was a drunken weekend in Madison, WI, in May of 2012, from which some very ugly stories surfaced.
The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in June 2015. At the rally at Soldier Field, Kane warned, “I know (Pat Foley) said I’ve been growing up, but watch out for me the next week.”
Later that August, the Buffalo News reported Kane was being investigated for rape. The case was eventually dismissed. “The totality of the credible evidence—the proof—does not sufficiently substantiate the complainant’s allegation that she was raped by Patrick Kane and this so-called ‘case’ is rife with reasonable doubt,” Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said in a statement. “Accordingly, the Office of the Erie County District Attorney will not present this matter to an Erie County Grand Jury.”
We’ll never know what happened that night, but it certainly impacted how many fans felt about Kane. Some moved on from the Blackhawks. Some never thought of him the same way again. Some just moved on.
I’m not here to pile on Kane or dig up old dirt on him, but his story can’t be told without mentioning his past.
Since 2015, Kane has been well-behaved as far as we can tell. Covering these stores from my unique “fan-alyst” was incredibly challenging. I didn’t want any of it to be true. It was making me feel not-so-great about the most electrifying Blackhawks player I’ve seen in my lifetime.
And he was…
When I think of Patrick Kane the player, I think of the individual moments. The heartbreaker celebration after his overtime winner vs the Kings, the Stanley Cup clincher in Philly, and my favorite moment…Kane v Marchand in 2013. During one of the Cup Final games, Marchand and Kane were chirping at each other. Marchand quipped, ” You’re not doing a whole lot of anything,” to Kane. “You should have kept your mouth shut,” Kane said back to Marchand after scoring a goal moments later. Kane went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.
That’s one thing I loved about Kane. Whenever he’d go through a period of struggle and someone would call him out about it, he’d respond. Just take a look at his stretch of games before the trade. In his last four games for Chicago, Kane had seven goals and three assists.
Swagger. It’s something we hadn’t really seen in Chicago since the days of Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick, and Tony Amonte, but Kane had more of it than anyone.
Just as my career covering the Blackhawks has run parallel to Kane’s career in the NHL, there are thousands of Hawks fans whose journey began with Kane. Think about this…that 10-year-old kid watching Chicago win the Cup in Philly is now 23. There are die-hard Blackhawks fans that have never seen a team without Kane. Think about that. We all just got to witness the greatest Blackhawk in franchise history. We’re lucky. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.
Without Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and their dynasty mates, Greg, Mario, and I probably aren’t doing this job we all love so much. All of those legends pulled a dead franchise from complete obscurity to the league’s coolest and best team. We are forever grateful.
Now that the trade we’ve been talking about for over a year has finally happened, it’s a weird feeling. I’m not sure if it’s hit me just yet. I’m writing this during the intermission of the Blackhawks v Coyotes game, and it just feels like another game. Maybe it will take seeing Kane on the ice for another team. I’m not sure, but it will hit me at some point.
The Blackhawks without Patrick Kane. It’s hard to imagine.
The Week Ahead
Thursday, March 2 vs Dallas Stars
7:30 pm on NBC Sports Chicago & WGN Radio
The Stars still lead Central Division with 75 points, with Colorado and Minnesota right on their heels. Minnesota has been active ahead of Friday’s trade deadline, acquiring Gustav Nyquist from Columbus. The Stars made a small trade, sending Denis Gurianov to Montreal for Evgenii Dadonov. but nothing major just yet. They’re looking to add to the middle six of their forward line. Whether or not they add someone in time for Thursday’s game remains to be seen. Meanwhile, watch Jason Robertson. The kid is a stud.
Saturday, March 4 v Nashville Predators
7:00 pm on NBC Sports Chicago & WGN Radio
A month ago, the Predators didn’t know if they should be buyers or sellers. Everyone else knew they should sell, and the Preds finally figured it out for themselves. Tuesday, they traded defenseman Mattias Ekholm to the Oilers in exchange for Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. On Sunday, they got a King’s random for Tanner Jeannot, who was dealt to Tampa Bay for Cal Foote and a colossal package of draft picks. I’d bet a few more Predators will have new homes by puck drop on Saturday.
Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!
Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!
Just drop your email below!