Patrick Kane will go down as one of the greatest hockey players ever when his NHL career is all said and done. He already is.
But back when he was a kid, Kane called himself a "puckhog." He loved dancing around defenders and scoring highlight-reel goals by himself.
Darryl Belfry was his coach at the time and wanted to get that mentality out of Kane’s game. In Belfry’s new book, “Belfry Hockey: Strategies to Teach the World’s Best Athletes,” Kane shared a story in the foreword about the time he got benched by Belfry after scoring a goal while the team was up 5-1.
There was a calculated reason for that, and Belfry joined the Blackhawks Talk Podcast on Tuesday to explain why:
"We were in the throes of this process of utilizing other people,” Belfry said. “We were right dug into it and we had set up power plays where he was on the half-wall and he's distributing and that was the goal.
"So we go 2-3 weeks in preparation for a tournament, we have the power play set up, we have all these things about him moving, moving to space, getting it back. Then we get into the game and he's back to, 'beat the first guy, beat the second guy, probably beat the first guy again, and then walk the goalie and score.' And I'm like, 'Patrick, you have to use your teammates. We worked on the power play, we worked on it everywhere, you've got to start doing it and if you don't start doing it I'm going to have to start doing something.' "And so we got to this point in the game where I could tell — we were up 5-1, but he hadn't scored, so I knew it was coming, that he was going to be like, 'I'm going to get on the scoresheet and I'm going to just take it upon myself to do it.' And I was warning him beforehand, 'If you do it one more time, you're sitting beside me.' I remember my buddy Bud said, 'He's going to go, he's just going to do it, and you've got to follow through.' And I said, 'Oh, I will.'
"So he did. He beat the first guy, beat the second guy, goes in, scores, and he comes back to the bench and I said, 'That's it, you're done.' And I don't think he believed I would do it like that. To your point, [Patrick] was like, 'After I'm scoring a goal, like, what's wrong with scoring?' And I said, 'It's not the fact that you scored, it's that this goal is not projectable. Yes, we're in a 5-1 game, we're better than this team, they probably long since given up, so yeah of course you can score there. But what happens when we play against really good teams and now they're trying to take your head off? This attitude and this play is just not going to work.
"That was a real turning point for him and for me with him because he definitely started to change a lot of the things and started to look at the game a little differently after that.'
Kane said he learned a valuable lesson that day, and it's a big reason why he's become one of the top playmakers in the game today.
"The whole last period I sat next to him on the bench," Kane wrote. "I scored a goal, but he wanted to get the message across. That really helped me develop my vision and playmaking, because before that all I wanted was to score goals."
Listen to the full episode here: