CHICAGO -- Now that right wing Patrick Kane is officially at training camp with the Chicago Blackhawks, he's ready to focus on the upcoming NHL season.
After leading the NHL last season with a career-high 106 points and winning the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, each for the first time, Kane knows the expectations of him will be higher than ever. That's why he's doing his best not to think about it.
"I've always thought if you think too much in the future, it's only going to go against what you're trying to do in the present," said Kane, who skated in his first camp practice Tuesday at United Center. "I'm a big believer in wiping the slate clean. There's definitely some motivation there, where you want to prove yourself again. It's a little bit in the back of your mind, but take it [on a] day-by-day basis, kind of like I did last year."
Kane, who played for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in Toronto, won't play in the Blackhawks' first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at United Center on Wednesday. His availability hasn't been determined for the second game against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Friday.
The plan is to ease Kane, and others who return from the World Cup, into preseason games. That might be easier said than done.
"He's going to probably want to do it sooner than later, but I think we can be patient because he's already been playing games," Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. "Usually the veteran players, when you come into a normal camp, they want to play maybe two or three games to just get their timing. For him, he's already played quite a few games. There's no reason to get him in right away, so we'll just kind of bring him along, especially this early into camp."
Kane doesn't want to sit too long, fearing that progress made during the World Cup might wear off.
"I think you've got to be careful in a situation like that, because they want to give you a few days off, but you don't want to lose everything that you've gained from playing in the World Cup," he said. "It's always fun coming back. Feels like home, for sure. I'm not playing [Wednesday], but it's one of those things where you wish you were going out there and playing in front of the home crowd."
As for Team USA's early exit from the World Cup, Kane said it didn't take long for him to get over it. Looking forward to the NHL regular season helped erase the sting.
"It was a situation, looking back on it now, where we lost to a good team in [Team Europe]," Kane said. "They're in the championship now, and I think at that point there's a lot of noise from the outside that maybe crept into our locker room a little bit."
The loss that stuck with him most was to Team USA's biggest rival.
"We needed to beat [Team] Canada," Kane said. "You could say they probably outplayed us, but we had chances in that game to keep ourselves in it and ended up losing that one and we were out. Pretty quick tournament for us, but you're playing in the World Cup of Hockey [and] you're playing for your country. It's always an honor to play for the United States. I'll always remember playing for my country and always want to do it if I get the opportunity."