Montreal Gazette

Kane makes his return to Chicago a memorable affair


Patrick Kane raised his stick and skated to the middle of the ice three times and the crowd got louder with every lap. It kept going as play resumed, then picked up again when Kane was shown on the overhead videoboard.

Showtime was back — and no one seemed to care all that much that he plays for one of Chicago's longtime rivals at the moment.

Kane returned to Chicago with the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday for his first game against the Blackhawks since he was traded to the New York Rangers a year ago. The 35-year-old winger, nicknamed Showtime for his flashy style, had 446 goals and 779 assists in 1,161 regular-season games with his first NHL team.

Just like he has so many times before, Kane delivered. He had a goal and an assist in Detroit's 3-2 victory, closing it out on a breakaway 1:43 into overtime. While celebratin­g his winner, Kane yelled “Showtime!” with his arms in the air as the season-high United Center crowd of 21,141 cheered.

“Just a lot of emotions right now, scoring that goal, being back here, being on a different team,” said Kane, who has five goals and seven assists during an eight-game point streak. “Just tried to show the fans there at the end they'll always have my heart here.”

Kane's Chicago homecoming coincided with the Blackhawks retiring Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Chelios' No. 7 jersey in a pregame ceremony. Chelios also spent time with the Red Wings during his playing career.

Chelios paid tribute to Kane during his speech, saying the Buffalo native will go down as hockey's greatest American-born player.

“That jersey looks kind of funny, Kaner, but it'll grow on you,” he said. “And don't worry, it'll work out in the end. You'll be standing here, same as me.”

That prompted the first in a series of thunderous roars at the United Center. Another big cheer came when Kane was announced with Detroit's starting lineup.

The Blackhawks aired a tribute video during the first TV timeout in the first period. The crowd started cheering even before it started, and then kept going as Kane repeatedly waved in appreciati­on.

“Just so special. You don't expect anything less from the Blackhawks with the tribute,” Kane said. “Didn't know if I did enough laps or too many laps. The guys kept telling me to go for another one, go for another one. Some of them wanted to see four, I only did three. It was great.”

Kane became a free agent after finishing last season with the Rangers. He had hip-resurfacin­g surgery in June and worked his way into shape before signing with Detroit in November. He has 12 goals and 16 assists in 27 games with the Red Wings.

“It's been great. I have nothing but positive feelings and emotions being here,” he said of joining Detroit. “Really enjoyed my time here. I think the group's been great, the coaching staff, everyone just giving me the chance to come in here and fit in and find my game.”

Kane was selected by Chicago with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He had an immediate impact, winning the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year after he had 21 goals and 51 assists during the 2007-08 season.

It was only the beginning. The rise of Kane, Jonathan Toews and defenceman Duncan Keith helped the Blackhawks put together the best stretch in franchise history, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Chicago also made it to the Western Conference final in 2014, losing to the Los Angeles Kings in a seven-game series.

“I think when you go through it, you don't realize how lucky and appreciati­ve you can be,” Kane said. “But man, I mean we had some players on that team and, you know, I think the great thing about that team is we were really close as a group, but there was a lot of inner competitio­n, too.”

The Blackhawks have struggled of late, and Kane waived a no-movement clause in his contract to facilitate the trade with New York last year.

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Patrick Kane

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