"I think it was really cool. It really makes you feel good. It seems like she was pretty excited in her letter that we were able to get it done. I thought it was a real easy gesture that I could pull off for the girl, just sign the jersey for her and do the right thing." -- Patrick Kane
did it because he could and because he wanted to. He did it because he remembers sitting by the glass at Buffalo Sabres
games when he was a kid, begging players to give him something, anything to take home as a treasure.
So when the Chicago Blackhawks
' star saw the young girl skate onto the Fenway Park ice wearing his USA hockey jersey during the announcement of the Olympic team on New Year's Day, he immediately ran to the 'Hawks' P.R. man, Brandon Faber.
"I thought I'd make it a little bit more special, so I went to Brandon and thought it would be a good idea to sign the jersey she was wearing for her," Kane told NHL.com. "It was fortunate that we were going to Boston in a week."
Faber immediately went to work. Almost simultaneously, he reached out to contacts at the NHL and USA Hockey. He also asked Annie Cammins, the Blackhawks' director of youth hockey, to reach out to Lori DiGiacomo, her counterpart with the Bruins.
Thursday afternoon at TD Garden, Kane penned his John Hancock on Talia Bode Ward's jersey. He also clutched a hand written letter she wrote to him, saying how lucky she was to be a part of the Olympic team announcement and how thankful she was for his gesture.
Unfortunately, Kane never got to meet Talia, who skates with the SCORE progam in Boston. He invited her to come to the Blackhawks' morning skate, but she instead had to go to school. She couldn't make the game either, Faber told NHL.com.
What a bummer.
"I think it was really cool," Kane, only 21, said. "It really makes you feel good. It seems like she was pretty excited in her letter that we were able to get it done. I thought it was a real easy gesture that I could pull off for the girl, just sign the jersey for her and do the right thing."
If Kane's initial idea on Jan. 1 and his ability, with Faber's help, to make good on it a week later with the sweet gesture, doesn't show how much he's grown as a person and learned to appreciate his celebrity, what does?
"I was trying to make the situation for her and her family even better than it already was," Kane said. "It might help the reputation, but I wasn't thinking about that when I went up to Brandon."
But Kane did learn the hard way this past summer what celebrity really means. He spent too much time in a court room defending his actions involving a Buffalo taxi cab driver during the early morning hours of Aug. 9 that led to the arrest of himself and his cousin.
It's a lesson he took to heart and one he will never forget.
"To be honest with you, I feel I'm a kid at heart and it was a situation that was tough on me and my family," he said. "Because you create a bigger name for yourself, obviously there are perks, but everything you do is under a microscope. I have heard people tell me many times that if that was two regular kids the story wouldn't even make the newspaper, but because of who I am it gets blown out of proportion. You take a positive out of a negative and learn. You're not glad it happened, but you can learn from it."
Kane said rather vehemently that his gesture earlier this week had nothing to do with building back his reputation that took a hit over the summer.
"As you get grow older I think it becomes more important to do those things," he said. "As you come into the NHL it's more of a thing where you are just trying to make a name for yourself. As that becomes established it becomes more important to give back to the community. And, I think the best fans are the kids. I used to attend Sabres games all the time and tried to get sticks from opposing players all the time. I know I was that kid once. I was in that situation."
And it felt great to be on the other side.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org