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.

Pleasantly Uneventful Preseason for Patrick Kane

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By Paul M. Banks

For Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks, a nice, quietly productive training camp was exactly what the doctor ordered. After an arrest hurt his image, but left his personal freedom and financial bottom line pretty much unscathed, the focus surrounding Kane is back on hockey. Which is exactly the way he, and his organization, like it. Kaner’s Coach, Joel Quenneville, has talked quite a bit about the young wing’s improved speed and added size. I recently asked the star player himself about it. “I do feel faster, I feel like this is the hardest I’ve ever worked this past summer, so hopefully it will pay off on the ice,” he responded.

Some of that extra work came in a very high-profile setting, as Kane took to the ice for Team USA Orientation Camp. Kane talked about the extra work he got in at Seven Bridges Ice Arena with Team USA.patrick-kane-nhl10

“It was not really a tryout camp, it was more to get to know everyone, and we where on the ice everyday, for about an hour. Just regular drills, nothing too special, it was good to be there and meet everyone.  I knew about 10 guys coming in, and left knowing everyone, so it’s a good feeling. It’s crazy to think, because it’s such a high level that we’re going to be playing at, but we won’t be able to get any practice in before our first game, but that’s how it is- with the Olympics right around the corner. And if I’m a part of that team I’ll be grateful.”

Giant posters of Kane were prominently displayed at that camp, which was so attractive to fans that hundreds of potential spectators were turned away. Kane is clearly becoming the face of Team USA hockey much like he’s the face of the Hawks franchise. He’s also the image featured on EA Sports “NHL ’10,” and he’s been spent countless hours playing the video game this fall.

“Too much lately, I’ve been throwing away my afternoon nap to play the video game. But it’s worth it, it’s fun, it keeps me low-key and keeps me in the house, so I enjoy it,” he said in response to my question about it.

Kane expectedly spent much of his training camp at or near the top of the Blackhawks’ practice session score sheets. Fellow superstar Jonathan Toews was right there with him in all the major categories. So I asked Coach Joel Quenneville what the focus is for the headliners –the guys assured of a front line spot- in preseason.

“We want them to be competitive and make sure their games are at high levels, get them ready for the season. We want to make sure they don’t come and just use training camp to just be here. The way the lines ended up during the playoff run at the end of last year, everyone got to play in different situations with a lot of different guys…they’re two special players (Kane and Toews) that we’re going to need to be a big part of this team, but as a coach you welcome the options that you do have with those two guys,” Quenneville responded.

If Kaner is looking for a song to encapsulate his upcoming season, perhaps its 2pac’s “All Eyes on Me.” No player in the Olympics or the NHL will have the spotlight shined as bright upon him this winter. And when the Hawks take to the road, opposing fans will heckle him. Of course, on the other hand, a lot of people in this country have very short term memories, so if we see a couple “Hatrick Kane” nights early in the season, pretty much everyone will forget what happened in Buffalo on August 9th.

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Kane and his teammates finished the preseason with a 2-3-1 record, and open the 82nd NHL regular season against the Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland as part of NHL Premiere 2009 on Friday, October 2 at 11:00 A.M. (CT). The teams face off again in Helsinki on Saturday, October 3 at 11:00 A.M. (CT) before the Blackhawks make their 2009-10 debut in North America at the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, October 8th.

Patrick Kane’s Video Game Released Today

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By Paul M. Banks
Following an off-season that even the most optimistic person would describe as excruciatingly disastrous, Patrick Kane has something extremely positive to look forward to. The EA Sports video game NHL 10, with the Chicago Blackhawks right wing on the cover, hits North American retail stores Tuesday, September 15th.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Kane is just the second American-born player to be featured on the cover of the top-selling EA Sports hockey videogame franchise. New York Rangers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck was the first when he was featured on the cover of NHL 97. Kane is the youngest player ever chosen for the cover of the NHL franchise and his image will front all packaging related to NHL 10. The physical image of Kane remains on the product, despite the public image of Kane suffering a huge black eye last month. You’ll remember on August 9, Kane and his cousin, James M. Kane, were arrested in Buffalo for allegedly assaulting a taxicab driver.

They were eventually cleared of any felony charges, but indictments on less severe misdemeanor assault, theft and harassment charges still loomed overhead. On August 27, the Kanes pleaded guilty to non-criminal disorderly conduct charges, and the court ordered them to issue an apology to the driver. So essentially, the storm has passed from a legal perspective.

The Redwood City, California tech firm Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) did not issue any further statement on the release date in regards to their cover choice. But they did explain their rationale when going public with the decision on June 22nd.

“At EA Sports we believe in identifying the most talented up-and-coming athletes in the world to help us develop the most authentic sports games,” said Jordan Edelstein, Vice-President of Marketing for EA Sports. “We believe Kane is one of the next great American hockey stars.” So it appears Kane has recovered nicely from “being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” as his endorsements (and legal freedoms) remain in tact. Box art and screenshots of Patrick Kane are available here

Returning to on-ice news, Kane began training camp on Sunday, skating with Team A (Red) at the Hawks’ pre-season camp.  The team is divided into three squads: A (Red), B (Black), and C (White).

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