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Thanks to Kane, Stanley's visit to Buffalo resonates

by Dan Rosen / Chicago Blackhawks

-- Moments after the puck fluttered off his stick and Patrick Kane started acting like the only crazed lunatic on the ice, there was an elderly man sitting in his customary spot inside his South Buffalo home who in that moment, that split second on June 9, 2010, may have been the only other person in the world to know why No. 88 in white was whooping it up.

Even with 83-year-old eyes peering through a television screen, Donald Kane, Sr. knew his grandson had just made history.

"When Patrick scored and it seemed like he was the only one who scored, my dad turned to me and he said, 'He just won the Stanley Cup,' " Kane's aunt, Bonnie Kane Lockwood, told "To think that my father was the second one to know that Patrick scored was just such an unbelievable moment."

But it was about to get better. Patrick Kane was about to tell the world where his heart lies.

His first words on camera as a Stanley Cup champion were a shout out to all of his friends and family in Buffalo. As much as that moment with her father, the one that is now forever frozen in time, meant to Lockwood, that shout out meant to everyone who has known Patrick Kane since he was a toddler said a lot about Patrick Kane.

"It just set the tone that wherever he goes and whatever talents he brings to whatever team, you bring Buffalo with you," Lockwood added. "You bring your home and your family with you, and that makes us all part of it."

Kane linked everyone to his greatest achievement on Friday when he brought the Stanley Cup home. It took 21 years of dreaming and six weeks of hard planning to make his day about as perfect as it could be for him, his immediately family, extended family, closest friends and hundreds within the community.

Kane won the Stanley Cup more than two months ago, but Friday, as he set out on a "roots" tour of Buffalo, Kane said finally the magnitude of his accomplishment had sunk in.

"When you see a lot of people you haven't seen in a while, or people that have been there for you from day one…it's going to sink in," he said from his private party at Creekside Banquet Facility in Cheektowaga, N.Y. "I think there are 500 friends and family here, people that support you, and it means a lot. Buffalo is my hometown. I still think Chicago is the greatest city in the world, but it's nice to bring something like this home, back to where you grew up, back to where your real friends and family are. That's important."

Kane both created personal memories and lifetime memories for so many others on Friday.

He started his celebration at Niagara Falls, a wonder that for years he admits to taking for granted.

"I have just been here two or three times," Kane said.

But when Cup keeper Mike Bolt from the Hockey Hall of Fame advised Kane that no matter what he does with the Cup, the one thing he had to do is get an iconic photo, he "figured what better place to go in Buffalo than to Niagara Falls."

So, Kane arranged to bring the Cup up to the Hurricane Deck at Bridal Veil Falls (on Friday renamed the HurriKane Deck) underneath the Falls on the American side. Wearing his red Blackhawks jersey, he got drenched as he held the Cup high over his head with the water powerfully falling behind him and mist blowing into the air.

Kane invited his family and friends, those who were riding on his private limo bus all day, to join him. At first, Patrick's mom Donna said people were skeptical about wanting to go up there to get the picture. But they did in pairs, in threes, in fours and in larger groups. They wore ponchos, got soaked, but celebrated.

Afterwards, Kane was feted at a ceremony and received the key to the city of Niagara Falls from Mayor Paul Dyster.

"Winning the Stanley Cup, you get the privileges and the perks of doing special things like this, so I want to thank (the people at) Niagara Falls for being so nice and kind to let me bring this in here and have my moment with it," Kane said. "It's a huge rush with the water hitting you as you hold something you have worked your whole life to get. It was really cool."

Kane's next stop was personal to him, an idea of his own that his father, Pat Sr., said he "was totally focused on." Instead of bringing the Cup to an event on Chippewa Street in downtown, where thousands could have joined him, Kane brought it to Roswell Park Cancer Institute because the patients there would not have been able to see it otherwise.

He walked around the floors of the hospital without any media coverage and met with patients ranging from roughly 6 years old to 85.

One man, the eldest of the group who Kane said had maybe a week to live, told him it was his dying wish to see the Stanley Cup. It came true because Kane brought the Cup home to Buffalo.

Another person said he was going to rub the Cup because maybe it will bring him good luck. If it does, it's because of the pull this city has on Kane.

A kid, Cameron, 15-years-old, was the lucky one who received Kane's Blackhawks' jersey. He wouldn't have if Kane didn't love Buffalo so much.

"His face, his young face, 15-years-old, just lit up," Lockwood said.

Kane's did, too. He made their day, maybe even their year by bringing joy into an otherwise sad place. Dr. Donald L. Trump, the President and CEO of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said the buzz created by Kane was bigger than anything he had seen before at the facility, and they have had celebrities visit.

"It would have been easy to just go out and have a big public appearance in Buffalo and have everyone show up, but to come here instead and have the people that wouldn't have been able to go there able to see if here it makes it even better," Kane said. "After coming to a place like Roswell you feel how lucky you are and how much you can give back by just being a role model."

Trump, amazed at the maturity of Kane, called him, "a community guy…he remembers his roots. I think not everybody can recognize and acknowledge their roots and what they attach to their roots and their future. He seems to be able to do that."

Kane proved that on his next three stops of the day.

He first visited with the ironworkers from Local 6 in Buffalo at the construction site for the soon-to-be Global Vascular Institute. Terry Prendergast, who shared his childhood with Kane's father and to this day remains a close family friend, paid tribute to Kane by painting "(Buzz) Patrick Kane Wins Stanley Cup" on a fifth floor beam.

Buzz is Kane's childhood nickname.

Kane, not a fan of heights, went up to the fifth floor and took photos with all of the ironworkers. He let Prendergast join him in holding up the Cup. Prendergast, who painted the message on the beam while hanging upside down, called the moment, "glorious, just glorious." Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also attended.

"He, from Day 1, has expressed his pride in this community, his love for this community," Mayor Brown said. "He's talked about the fact that this community has put the stuff inside of him that he's been able to use as a very successful professional hockey player. I think it just really inspires everybody in the city, but in particular, inspires the youth to believe that if a young guy from their community can achieve the kind of early success and greatness that Patrick Kane has achieved that if they work hard they can achieve that kind of greatness as well."

Kane next visited with local police and fire officials and their families at the New Era Cap Co. on Delaware Avenue. He spent over an hour signing autographs, taking pictures and simply chatting with as many adults and kids that he could. The Cup was put on a table underneath a tent and anybody who wanted a picture with it could grab one.

"There are a lot of functions that we'll go to where I'll get the look like, 'Come on, let's move on to the next thing,' and I didn't get that look today," Pat Sr. said. "He wanted to be at these places and he took his time with everybody. I could see the maturity right there."

Kane kept true to his roots tour on his next stop when he went to DJ Spinners, his favorite floor hockey rink, to play a best-of-seven tournament for the Stanley Cup with all of his friends, including ex-Sabre Tim Kennedy. Word was that if Kane's team hadn't won he would not have been able to carry the Cup into his private party a few hours later.

A 5-3 victory in Game 7 allowed him to walk into his shindig proudly with the Cup high over his head. He did so with the sounds of The Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger," the Blackhawks' goal song at United Center, blaring in the background. Roughly 500 of his closest family and friends were invited to the party to join in the celebration.

They all in one way shape or form have ties to South Buffalo, ties to Patrick Kane.

"It's been such a ride and it's been so wild, but Patrick wanted to make this something special for the community and special for his friends and family," Lockwood said. "It's what he wanted to do in the way he wanted to do it. Just like he plays on the ice, he demonstrated that he knows how to get it done."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | Staff Writer

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