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Kane prepares for his eighth NHL season

by Dan Rosen / Chicago Blackhawks

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday during the regular season and every other Tuesday in the offseason. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane:

Patrick Kane had no choice but to talk about what almost happened last season, about how close the Chicago Blackhawks were to reaching the Stanley Cup Final and, obviously, repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

As Kane was shuttled from conference room to conference room Monday, meeting with media outlets at the NHL's annual Player Media Tour, he was repeatedly asked about overcoming the loss to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final.

"It stings just talking about it and getting a bunch of questions about it, that's for sure," Kane said in his interview with NHL.com. "But I think the biggest thing is you realize how good of a series it was, how entertaining it was for the fans to watch and how entertaining it was to be a part of.

"There's really nothing you can do about it now," he continued. "We were in that position to try to win and it didn't happen. The best thing you can do is learn from it, move on and hope you get another crack at 'em this season in the playoffs."

The Blackhawks and Kings might be on a crash course for another epic Stanley Cup Playoff series. They're returning basically intact and they are the cream of a very good crop of teams in the Western Conference.

But while it might not be too early for Kane to be thinking about a rematch, a third straight meeting in the playoffs between Chicago and Los Angeles, it is way too early to be talking about that.

Training camp is set to open for the Blackhawks on Sept. 19 at the University of Notre Dame, and Kane is ready. He spoke Monday about his summer, his conditioning, expectations and, yes, nerves with the opening of camp rapidly approaching.

Here are Five Questions with… Patrick Kane:

It became news this summer of you playing in some leagues in Buffalo. One is a regular house league in which you scored 10 points in a game, and another is a more organized league called the Fattey Hockey League. One of our writers even chronicled the history of the Fattey Hockey League. Why do you play in these leagues in the offseason? What do you gain from it, get out of it?

"I think it's kind of one of those things when you're just getting back to getting on the ice; it's something fun to do. As soon as I get back home in the summer my buddies are always coming out and asking me to play for their team in these certain men's leagues. For the certain one I got a lot of attention for it, but it was something I have been playing in for the past two or three summers, and for whatever reason this game got a little more attention. I don't know if the right person saw it and put it on Twitter or whatever, but it kind of blew up [his 10-point game]. We had some fun with it. There were certain guys saying they had a bunch of chances and hit the post, and could have made a name for themselves with three or four goals. I only played a couple of games, but this year, especially after that game, I decided to shut it down from that league.

"The other league [Fattey Hockey League] is pretty good. A lot of pros play in that league, a lot of AHL guys and college guys, and some good players in junior that are going to probably be moving up to the college ranks. I have been playing in that one for six years and our team has won it six times. That's a good league and it's getting better and better every year. The first year to where it's at now is a huge difference. They do it every Sunday in the summer, and with the new Harborcenter going up in Buffalo I guess they're going to do it two times a week next year, every Monday and Wednesday. It's a good little skate to get ready for the training in August."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville talked about starting the season, or at least training camp, with you and Brandon Saad on a line centered by Brad Richards. What do you know about Richards and what do you expect?

"I know he's been very successful. I've talked with a lot of guys about the kind of person he is and I've gotten a lot of good reports there. I think he caters to the young guys really well. He's good in that position. He's also going to be living in the same building as me this year so I'm sure we'll become close. He asked me for some options and that's the building he chose. It'll be good for us. I've just heard he's a really good guy and he's got a lot of experience. I know he was in a leadership role in New York and he probably won't have that big of a role coming to Chicago, but I think he's a little excited about that, to just be a guy coming in worrying about himself, trying to get better and to fit in right away. He got bought out last year, but at the same time he still had 20 goals and 50 points, so that's a pretty legit second-line center right there."

Obviously Jonathan Toews is an option to be your center, but Quenneville rarely puts you guys together in even-strength situations; instead, you have had this revolving door of centers. Has that been strange, bothersome, or hindered your game at all?

"I don't think so. I think it would be nice to have some stability there, but I've also told Joel in the past that I'm OK playing with whoever. There are times if I start with a certain line, if he wants to do something I'll end up playing a shift with the fourth line or I'll play a shift with the third line and then go back to my line. It kind of switches up throughout the game. After penalties I usually go out there with [Toews and Patrick Sharp]. It switches up but that's the way he coaches and I told him I'm completely fine with that. Hopefully this year there will be a little more stability and I think with Brad that could happen. Especially with Brandon Saad, the way he emerged as a player last year in the playoffs, it could help us a little more. I'm really excited about starting with that line."

You're still a young guy but not a young player anymore, so do you still get that nervous feeling as camp approaches?

"Yeah, absolutely. It's always exciting to start the season. You always want to show up in good shape and prove that you're ready for the season. I think that's important. It's pretty crazy to think I'm going into my eighth year of playing in the NHL. That's unbelievable how fast it has gone by, but every year is a new challenge and you're always trying to prove yourself. It's always exciting when you can start the season off good and kind of get into the zone where you're going strong. That's what I hope to do this year."

You mention the eighth season. Does it feel like eight seasons on your body?

"No, it feels like it's my third or fourth. It's crazy. But they always say it goes by fast and I'm realizing that now. I still feel really good. I feel like I'm in the best shape I have been. I probably worked the hardest I have this summer as far as working out. It's probably the most I've skated any summer, for sure. I think it's beneficial for me to skate a lot, be on the ice, improve on certain things. I have always felt I'm a better player when I skate more. I just got into it this summer, kept skating. I have always enjoyed the game, love to play, so it's fun for me to go out there and skate and play, like you saw in these certain leagues. It's fun to get out there and work on your craft."

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