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FEATURE: Patrick Kane, a Natural-Born Scorer

A natural knack for the net, and the hard work to maximize its full potential, has made Patrick Kane one of the best American scorers of all-time

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc /

Patrick Kane was 10 years old and playing for the West Seneca Wings in South Buffalo when one of the scorekeepers ambled over to the bench to inform one of the assistant coaches - who happened to be Kane's father, Pat, Sr. - that Kane had eight points in the game.

"I knew he was having a good game but I didn't know how many he had," Pat Kane, Sr. said. "He was involved in so many of the goals."

Sound familiar?

Some 20 years later, Patrick Kane continues to be involved in so many of the Blackhawks' goals - whether scoring or assisting on them - that the winger reached a major milestone when he recorded the 1,000th point of his career with an assist on a Brandon Saad goal during Chicago's 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.

Kane became the 90th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points, the 55th before his 1,000th NHL game, the 10th American-born player, seventh active NHLer and fourth to do so all in a Blackhawks sweater.

Video: Kane reaches 1,000 career points

"I've been very fortunate to come to Chicago and play on some great teams and play with some great players," Kane said. "Obviously, I was put in a good situation right away when I was younger so I think it helped me probably progress those numbers a little bit faster.

"As you get older and you pass certain guys in points you see some of the great players that have played the game and have done some amazing things that you remember when you were a little kid and you're right there with them it's definitely an honor," Kane added.

Kane's second sports love is basketball - the court he and his buddies played hoops on as a kid remains in the back of the family home in Buffalo - and it's no surprise his focus with the ball was much like it is with the puck.

"I was more of a point guard, set-up man - I liked passing the ball," said Kane, who while living in Detroit as a teenager planned to play basketball for Detroit Country Day High School before it was decided his hockey obligations would take up too much of his time. "I liked having the ball in my hands, dribbling it and trying to make plays."

Again, Pat, Sr. saw some sort of innate athletic ability that his son possessed early on, this time on the basketball court.

"At the time, he didn't know much about basketball at all and there was this one play where a kid turned around and had his back to him and Pat threw the ball off his back to in-bounded it to himself and then put it back in the basket," Pat, Sr. said. "For him to be able to figure that out was just something special."

As evidence of his sporting abilities as a youngster, most notably on the ice when he had club coaches from around the Buffalo area clamoring for him to join their teams, Kane is a natural-born scorer. But to dismiss his hockey ability as some kind of gift from nature would be discounting the work Kane put in almost from the moment he first pulled on a pair of skates.

"I don't think it was like I was just born with this gift and that's the road that it led me on," Kane said. "It was something I chose to do and work hard at it. I practiced a lot when I was a kid. I was on the ice 350 days out of the year, a couple of times a day on some occasions. I just loved it. I think when you love something that much and you work hard at it, no matter what it is, you have the ability to go and do something."

"I've been playing the same way since I've been a little kid," Kane added. "Obviously, you adjust some things here and there but I've always been an offensive guy who likes to skate with the puck and make plays. That's the way I played when I was 6, 7 years old. You see a lot of players come into the league or come into junior and they have to adjust their game to stay at that level. Fortunately for me, it's something I never really had to adjust."

Video: Kane thanks teammates for unforgettable moment

Blackhawks Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman said that Kane has "great instincts for the game" but that it is the work ethic the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 NHL Draft displays that sets him apart.

"He seems to know where everybody is without looking - that's just a spatial awareness and skill," Bowman said. "And then he's really worked hard on all the little details of the game so I don't think it's fair to say he's just gifted. He is gifted, but there are a lot of people that are gifted that never even make it to the NHL, let alone become one of the best players in the game.

"So he deserves credit for the amount of time that he's put in honing his craft," Bowman continued. "The hardest thing to do in our game is to score and to make plays and he does it effortlessly."

Remarkably, Kane, who has 24 goals and 38 assists in 50 games this season, is getting better with age. Kane is on pace for this second consecutive 100-plus-point season - and third of his career - this season.

"I don't know what you can say other than he seems to defy the odds; he keeps getting better every year," Bowman said. "I look at the way that he's playing right now (and) you could say he's playing the best hockey of his whole career.

"He's got the experience that some of the younger players don't have, but he's able to add new wrinkles to his game all the time," Bowman continued. "When he's on the ice it's dangerous for the other team. For our coaching staff, we can move him around. He's played with a lot of different people this year. He gets double-shifted, so you can catch the opposition off guard sometimes when he's not always in the regular rotation. There aren't many people in the whole world that can do what Patrick does."

Kane continues to do it on nightly basis for a Blackhawks team that has needed each one of the veteran's points to remain within striking distance of the Western Conference postseason race.

"I feel like I'm getting better and better as time goes on," Kane said. "I'm trying to keep improving. I think that's the challenge, right, to be able to do it on a year-to-year basis and continue to do it as you get older? That's something I'll be shooting for, for sure."

While he does, Kane will continue to ascend the NHL's all-time scoring list and achieve more career milestones.

"You're just playing hockey, you're not thinking too much about stats or milestones," Kane said. "You're just trying to play your best every game but when they come along I think they're pretty special."

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