For the vast majority of his hockey life, Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane has had a voice in his head telling him details to focus on to take his game to the next level, which he has year after year.
Kane and development coach Darryl Belfry spoke with Scott Powers of The Athletic about their working relationship that spans more than 20 years.
One way Belfry has helped Kane over the years is by sending the three-time Stanley Cup champion 12-15 minute video breakdowns of his play every few games during the season.
"I remember, there was a situation maybe a couple of years ago where, for some reason, I was shooting everything high, and he noticed it in one of my sequences," Kane told Powers. "Next game, he said, I want you to shoot blocker low, your first shot. And no joke, I remember the game, it was against the Islanders, it was the game I actually had my 800th point. This was the first of three that night. And it was like a minute into the game, I get the puck on the right side, it wasn’t like a blistering shot or anything, just a shot right like a foot off the ice, blocker side and it goes in the net."
Another suggestion Kane ran with from Belfry had a huge impact on his overall offensive game, coming up on the play behind the defense.
"I think that started to maybe develop in like 2010 when we were looking for ways to give me the puck more," Kane said. "It was really something that no one really ever [had] done. I mean, you saw it on the power play a little bit where teams would use the drop pass, and that was a pretty effective thing for guys like (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg. But 5-on-5, I started implementing it to my game and I would get those drop passes, and all of a sudden, I’m coming up with so much speed. It’s really been an effective thing still to this day."
Belfry also helped Kane improve his possession time by suggesting a number of times he should try to touch the puck every game.
"I remember, I think I was at an all-star game or something, and I was talking to (Nathan) MacKinnon about working with you and whatnot. He’s like, well, how many puck touches does he want you to get a game? I said, 40. And he’s like, 40? Like, he couldn’t believe that was the number, like that was such a high number," Kane said. "So I remember that, but that was pretty funny. But yeah, that’s always been the number, try and get as much as possible. And then we feel like if the puck’s in my hands and then good things can happen."
Powers and Belfry wrote the book "Belfry Hockey" together about Belfry's teaching strategies, which came out Nov. 3.