Ever since Dale Tallon made him the first pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Patrick Kane has dazzled Blackhawks fans for 12 seasons.
But imagine a world where Kane went second to the Philadelphia Flyers or third to the Phoenix Coyotes. Or a world where Jakub Voracek’s No. 93 was displayed widely across the city of Chicago instead of Kane’s No. 88.
Tallon, the former Blackhawks general manager and current Florida Panthers GM, was on the NHL Executive Suite podcast on Wednesday and shared the story of exactly when he knew that Kane would be the Blackhawks’ selection:
“Patrick Kane ... it was, I remember Rick Dudley and I going to watch him play in a game in London against Plymouth. Patrick got hammered. A big, hard hit from Jared Boll, who was a big, hard-nosed kid that played in Plymouth. And he got hammered right in front of us. We were sitting right there in the corner. And he picked himself up and brushed himself off and I think he got two goals and two assists after that. We looked at each other and said, ‘That’s our guy.’
"After we had won the lottery, there was discussion whether it would be [James] van Riemsdyk or [Kyle] Turris or [Jakub] Voracek or those guys and we kept that going. We didn’t tell anybody what we were doing but I remember we looked at each other in that particular game, we said ‘that’s our guy’ because he wasn’t afraid to go with the tall trees. He wasn’t a very big guy, but he played in traffic. He wasn’t afraid. That was the one thing that people said: ‘Well how could you draft a guy that small first overall?’ But it was the size of his heart that was more important.”
Tallon and the Blackhawks made the correct choice. Kane immediately burst onto the scene in the NHL, won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, and eventually went on to help the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups. van Riemsdyk and Turris went second and third, respectively, and both have had fine careers. And still, Kane has more career points than both of them combined.
Voracek went seventh in that year’s draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets. After a few seasons with Columbus, he was traded to the Flyers and eventually prospered into an NHL All-Star. Voracek’s name was linked to the Blackhawks leading up to the draft, but according to Tallon, they were just trying to keep people off their scent. Once they won the lottery, they knew their man:
“His talent was ... no other guy in that draft had his talent. It was just a matter about his size. That was the only drawback. I mean, I liked Kyle Turris and van Riemsdyk and all those players. As a matter of fact, I was flying to Halifax from Chicago and I was changing planes in Ottawa and when I landed in Ottawa to change planes, my phone had blown up because we had won the lottery.
"And so I was going to Halifax. Voracek was playing in Halifax. And so I went there and as I landed in Halifax, people wanted me to come home and not go. I said ‘I’m gonna keep going’ because I want people to think we might draft that guy.’ I wanted to leave doubt right ‘til the end. And so I went to Halifax and we thought that Voracek was going to be our pick. And I like him, and I think he’s a great player, but after a lot of deliberation and hard work and scouting and watching a lot of game ... it was Patrick Kane that was the logical choice for us.”
And it’s been “Showtime” in Chicago ever since. And as the Blackhawks prepare for their next potential franchise-altering draft selection next month, they’re hoping the pick is more on the Kane-spectrum than the Turris-spectrum.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.