As he sat in the locker room during the Los Angeles Kings’ banner ceremony, Patrick Kane must’ve watched the Stanley Cup being passed around and felt a twinge in his heart. He knows what it’s like to hold it, kiss it and pass it to teammates: he did it three years ago after sinking the final shot of the 2009-10 season and sealing the Chicago Blackhawks’ Cup win. He and the rest of the team are hungrier than ever for another dance with Lord Stanley.
Perhaps it was that motivation that fueled his performance against the Kings on Saturday. This wasn’t the same Patrick Kane we saw last season, the one who seemed unsure at times as to what to do with the puck. He seemed more aggressive and focused in the way he played, and that was a factor in the success of the Blackhawks’ power play. In fact, it was on a 5-on-3 power play that he scored the opening goal of the game and the entire 2013 NHL season. He ended up with two points, adding an assist to his goal.
Kane has been itching for the chance to silence his critics since last summer. Instead of sulking over the mess in which he found himself, he turned the criticism and negativity into incentive to dispel the whispers that he’s already reached his peak and will never be as good as he was three years ago. As he did prior to that Cup year, he trained on the ice several times a week in the off-season. His decision to play in Switzerland was based on the fact that the Blackhawks played there at the start of the 2009-10 season. And you could say that his hair pays homage to the fact that he didn’t cut it till the 2010 playoffs. He’s doing everything he can to recreate that winning season.
If Kane can keep scoring two points a game, he’ll be on track to surpass his career-high 88 points and perhaps hit the 100-point mark. But beyond that, he’ll have shown everyone that his vow to change his ways off the ice has changed his ways on the ice for the better.