CHICAGO - Patrick Kane skated onto the Wrigley Field ice with his teammates late Wednesday morning and took a few strides before setting up at center ice for a team photo. When it was over, Kane took a few more strides and headed off.
He's battling a "lower body injury" suffered Tuesday in Detroit courtesy of a hit by Red Wings forward Dan Cleary. Kane told NHL.com that the odds of him playing in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Thursday are "95 percent."
"I took a couple of strides to see how the tape would feel on it," Kane told NHL.com in an exclusive interview Wednesday afternoon. "There is no use being a hero on a practice day so you might as well get your rest and get ready for the next day."
Kane was gathering the puck along the boards when Cleary took a few strides at him and checked him into the boards 7:33 into the first period. He said his skate got caught in the ice and he skated off gingerly.
He returned for the second period and played out the game, a 4-0 Wings' victory. He recorded two shots on goal in 14:03 of ice time.
Chicago defenseman James Wisniewski said part of the reason the game unraveled around the Hawks and resulted in a 4-0 whitewashing was because the players were thinking more about revenge on Cleary for hitting Kane than playing the game.
If anything, that should make for some good theater Thursday afternoon.
"I think we got a little frustrated after that," Wisniewski said. "We were running around trying to re-pay that hit and they're so skilled that when you do that they just step around you."
Kane initially feared the injury was more serious than it actually was. But while it didn't stop him from returning to Tuesday's game, it did keep him off the ice Wednesday because it tightened up over night.
"When I fell back my skate kind of got caught in the ice," he said. "I came back and played and they always say the next day it feels worse. I'll just take care of it. It should be OK, I think."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville certainly believes so. Asked about Kane's status for the Winter Classic, Quenneville said, "Patrick's playing."
Unless something drastic happens, plan on it. Kane called the Winter Classic "the biggest game of my career so far.
"It's been so hyped up since the beginning of the season and it feels like a playoff game that everybody is so revved up about it," he continued. "Put that in your mind and you'll do whatever you can to play in maybe a once in a lifetime thing."
Even though he only took a few strides Wednesday, Kane took time to soak in the atmosphere of skating on an ice sheet inside Wrigley Field.
"It's different, really different," he said. "You know you look up and there is no roof or jumbotron. There are a lot of different things that you're obviously not used to. You feel like you're skating in an open field. It definitely feels pretty cool. It feels like you're on a pond. It's unique and challenging and we definitely have to have fun with it."
Tender injury or not, Kane plans to do so.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org