called making the U.S. Olympic squad a dream come true, but he also had to know this was coming.
When you talk about locks for the American squad, arguably no one was as secure as Kane, the 21-year-old right wing out of Buffalo, N.Y. who already owns the Calder Memorial Trophy and 187 points in 202 NHL games.
Still, you could tell through the telephone during Kane's conference call Friday night that there was still some awe in his voice and plenty of excitement in his tone. Even if he was a lock, that call he got Thursday from Team USA Associate GM David Poile was one of the best Kane has ever received.
"It's the Olympics we're talking about, the highest state of hockey you can play and the highest competition level," Kane said. "I had a chance to meet some of the other athletes in other sports, and this is what they work for their whole life. As hockey players we work to make the NHL, but at the same time you realize how much it means to these other Olympians and it should mean the same thing to us."
Kane is the poster boy for the young team selected by Team USA GM Brian Burke
. Thirteen of the 23 players are 25 or younger and only three (Brian Rafalski
, Chris Drury
and Jamie Langenbrunner
) have previous experience.
Canada is bringing 12 players who are 25 or younger, but eight members of the host team have previous Olympic experience and Chris Pronger
, Scott Niedermayer
, Martin Brodeur
and Jarome Iginla
all won gold eight years ago in Salt Lake City.
Drury and Rafalski played for the American team that finished second to Canada in '02.
"Probably the strongest team on paper I'd have to say is Canada. Sweden is going to be pretty good, too, and obviously Russia has so many superstars," Kane said. "At the same time, it's one of those tournaments that if everything can click right and you can do things right for a couple of weeks, who knows what you can come out with.
"Going to Canada as an American team I am sure we'll take some heat, but I think it'll be pretty fun to go on their turf and maybe beat 'em," he added. "They did it to us in Salt Lake City. It'll be one of those times when maybe we can get some revenge."
Right away Kane mentioned Team USA's youth, but he also pointed at the Americans' speed, skill and goaltending as their best attributes. Either Ryan Miller
or Tim Thomas
will likely be the Americans' No. 1 in net, but Jonathan Quick
may have a say as well.
"With the way Coach (Ron) Wilson likes to coach, he's an attack guy that likes to score goals and that should bode well for us because we have some players that can do that," Kane said. "And, if you look at our goaltending, if it's not the best it's one of the best in the tournament."
Kane agreed that Burke's selections signify a changing of the guard in USA Hockey from the old guard to the new school. Veteran international stars like Mike Modano
, Bill Guerin
, Keith Tkachuk
, Doug Weight
and Brian Rolston
were left off the team.
"You look at a guy like Modano, it's probably tough to see him left off the team, but it is a changing of the guard," Kane said. "Look at the NHL, though, all the best players in the League are young anyway. It's a young man's League now."
And, this young man has a sense for history that maybe, just maybe will be on the Americans' side in Vancouver.
"I think it's pretty cool that it's the 30th anniversary of the 1980 team and the 50th of the 1960 team," Kane said. "Hopefully it's one of those years we can put everything together and bring the gold back to theU.S."
They're underdogs, a long shot, but Kane knew that all along anyway.
"People are probably viewing us as underdogs, but at the same if you put together the right chemistry and guys get along that can really help us and go a long way," he said. "I tell you, it will be a heck of a year if you could come home with both (Olympic gold and Stanley Cup)."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org