This excerpt is taken from the October 2011 issue of Blackhawks Magazine, the official game program of the Chicago Blackhawks. You can get your copy at all Blackhawks home games, beginning Oct. 8 vs. Dallas.
Is there a statue in Patrick Kane’s future? The possibility was broached recently when Jim Koehler, general manager of the United Center, showed the Blackhawks star where monuments for Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita would be situated. Koehler then wondered aloud about Kane’s preferred location when the time comes.
“WHOA!” exclaimed No. 88, bringing the conversation to a screeching halt and rerouting it from the third rail. “I just want to become better right now. You only have one shot at the National Hockey League. You only have one life. I don’t want to get to the point when I retire where I look back and say to myself, ‘I wish I had done this,’ or ‘I wish I had done that.’ I’m not exactly sure what everybody else’s expectations are for me, but I know what mine are: I want to become an elite player.”
I just want to become better right now. You only have one shot at the NHL. I’m not exactly sure what everybody else’s expectations are for me, but I know what mine are: I want to become an elite player.” - Patrick Kane
If it’s a stretch at this juncture to look ahead and bronze Kane, it’s proper to digest current events and appreciate him. At 22, he enters his fifth NHL season with a resume that portends greatness. The winning puck remains at large, but he did bury it in Philadelphia on June 9, 2010, to clinch a Stanley Cup. In the pantheon of Chicago sports, Kane beat Michael Jordan and Walter Payton to championship ring-fittings by several years while Ernie Banks, who never curbed his enthusiasm, regrettably will be forever on the outside looking in on a parade.
For pure numbers, a category that does not overly impress Kane, he has registered more goals, 103, in his first four winters with the Blackhawks than did either Hull (101) or Mikita (83). Denis Savard amassed 132, and before he became Kane’s first NHL coach, the flying Frenchman was credited by former team owner Bill Wirtz with helping “save” the franchise — not unlike the resurrection Hull and Mikita energized during the 1960s after a decade so desultory that there was discussion about moving the Blackhawks to another city. If you believe in symmetry, recall the arrivals of Kane and Jonathan Toews. Chicago wasn’t about to lose hockey, but hockey had just about lost Chicago.
“I remember sitting in the stands my rookie year in 2007 for an exhibition game,” Kane says. “They announced 7,000, but the crowd was more like 4,000. Now, we not only sell out every night, but the building is full for our first practice in training camp. Pretty amazing. Our fans are great. If there are no fans, there are no games. They deserve a good product, a good team. I can’t imagine ever wanting to play anywhere else.”