Blackhawks Bits: Early Season Edition

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By Paul M. Banks

It’s been an exciting first couple of weeks for Patrick Kane and his Chicago Blackhawks’ teammates. Chicago has a Western Conference leading 11 points and a 5-1-1 record. Kane has been a huge factor in that success, as he leads the team in shots on goal with 26, is tied with Patrick Sharp for the team lead in assists (4), and is second to Sharp in points with 7. There’s been quite a few Kane/Hawks stories flying around the world wide web during the first half of October, here’s some of the best.


-Bear Market Business

The Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bears announced Wednesday a historic partnership between the two franchises, marking the first of its kind between an Original Six National Hockey League team and a founding franchise of the National Football League.

The cross-branding promotional initiative includes commercials, representation inside the United Center and Soldier Field during home games for each team and a wealth of other activities. The five sets of commercials that will be released this fall feature one Blackhawks player and one Bears player, emphasizing the mutual support between each organization and the city of Chicago. Patrick Kane will join his Blackhawks teammates Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell. Who will team up  with Bears Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Robbie Gould, Lance Briggs and Greg Olsen in these spots. In his promo, Kane crouched over a football with his hockey stick and wristed the ball 20 yards downfield into the arms of receiver Devin Hester.

“Partnering with the Blackhawks is a unique relationship that showcases two storied Chicago franchises,” said Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Chris Hibbs.  “The collaboration of the two teams and our star athletes is something we hope the passionate Chicago sports community can rally around.”dsc02123

-Patrick Kane Quote of the Week

The business deal was probably foreshadowed by this quote published a few days before on ESPNChicago.com

“Obviously the Bears are the Bears. They’re always going to be adored in this city, and we have to deal with that.”

It was featured in a piece about the Hawks starting their home slate October 10th in ton that year-in, year-out has a dysfunctional obsession with the Bears, and this year also has a collective and increasingly pathological man-crush on QB Jay Cutler.

-The Comeback Kid

On Monday night, the Hawks matched the biggest comeback in NHL history, rallying from a five-goal deficit to beat the Calgary Flames 6-5. Chicago fell behind 5-0 in the first period before overtaking the Flames, the team they eliminated in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last April. The rally was the biggest in franchise history and Kane was the best player on the ice that night, taking over the game in the second period and finishing with a goal and two assists.
More detail on Kane’s role courtesy of Annenberg’s Digital News Sports Blog

After Kane’s beautiful wrist shot for goal and an intelligent across ice pass to set up left wing Dustin Byfuglien’s third tally of the season, the Hawks found themselves down by only two goals. And Kane’s heroics weren’t done yet. Late in the second period, as the Flames continued to play conservatively, Kane took advantage of Calgary’s poor defensive alignment and found winger Dave Bolland, who beat Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to cut the lead to one. As home team dressed in red left the ice in the second period they were greeted with a very different sound from the Chicago faithful, loud cheers.

-Kilpatrick

An extremely rare on-ice occurrence, Patrick Kane saw a minute of time on the penalty kill in the Hawks win over the Florida Panthers earlier this month. He even contributed a blocked shot during his time with the special teams unit. But he’s not there for defense, his role, according to coaches is to give the team a short-handed offensive push.

Patrick Kane and Company Head to Europe

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By Paul M. Banks

It’s known as the “Grand Tour,” a rite of passage for college kids. Upon completion of college, or perhaps during the summer in-between, college students often go sightseeing in continental Europe. Patrick Kane, and many of his Chicago Blackhawks teammates are college age or younger. Since they find themselves playing in the NHL instead of going away to school, they can consider this week’s trip to Switzerland and Finland, their Grand Tour.

On Monday afternoon, the Blackhawks played the first of two European exhibition contests at Zurich’s Hallenstadion Arena against HC Davos.  Chicago won Monday’s contest 9-2; including two goals from star left-wing Patrick Kane, who I had an exclusive with back in Chicago, just before the team flew across the pond.

“It will be cool. Hopefully, we can get some Blackhawks fans over there that can cheer us on pretty good. From watching soccer games on TV and being in world championships things like that- those European crowds can get pretty crazy with waving the flags, the face-paint and things like that. I’m sure we’ll enjoy it,” he said.

I also asked him about the power play, which has struggled mightily in exhibition matches. “Once we get out there on the power play, we pretty much know what to do. We’ve been with each other for a couple years here, so hopefully we get some practice in the exhibition and we work on it there,” Kane said.

The Blackhawks will join the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers as National Hockey League teams selected to participate in “NHL Premiere,” launching the 2009-10 regular season. The Blackhawks and Panthers will play “home-and-home” games at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, on Fri., Oct. 2 and Sat., Oct. 3. This will be the Blackhawks’ first-ever regular-season game in Europe, but not Kane’s first trip to the old continent.

“I’ve been there a couple times. Not everyone gets the opportunity to do that, but we’re excited about it and getting the season started…I’ve been to Germany, Russia, I haven’t been to Switzerland so that will be a goal for me. Finland, it can be pretty dark when you’re there in the winter, but luckily we’re going there a little bit earlier, so that’s pretty nice,” Kane said.

The trip should also help build chemistry within a team that had an off-season filled with adversity. “Going overseas for a couple weeks really helps us bond, as we really get to hang out with each other. Usually, when we’re at the rink we hang out, but then we go home and do our own thing and come back the next day.  But there, we’ll probably be together 24-7,” Kane said.