Kane nets OT winner in 1st game vs. Blackhawks

NHL

CHICAGO — Patrick Kane raised his stick and skated to the middle of the ice three times, and the crowd got louder with every lap. It just kept cheering as play resumed, and 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.

Kane’s Chicago homecoming coincided with the Blackhawks retiring Hall of Fame defenseman 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. There was another big cheer 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 the video started, and then kept going as Kane repeatedly waved in appreciation. He then wore a sheepish grin as he skated over for the resumption of play.

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 11 goals and 15 assists in 26 games with the Red Wings.

Kane had an immediate impact after he was selected by Chicago with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft. He won the Calder Trophy for 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 defenseman 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.

“It was a great run,” Kane said. “I think we were kind of at the point in time when it was, I think for the organization and myself, it was probably good to start fresh and just enjoy something different, right?

“It was exciting for me to get a chance to play in New York last year and kind of appreciate that experience and do something different,” he continued, “and being in Detroit and going through it a second time, it feels a little bit more comfortable.”

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