Patrick Kane stood at the lectern feeling euphoric about winning another Stanley Cup.
Then he realized that this upcoming NHL season would be his ninth. And suddenly, the 26-year-old felt like a league elder statesman.
“You see the guys getting drafted, think they’re [born in] ‘97 or something,” Kane said. “You thought you were young as an ‘88 and you’re almost 10 years from the guys getting drafted.”
Kane has packed a lot of winning and a lot of hockey into what seems like a short amount of time. And it only seemed appropriate that Kane, who led the league in scoring before suffering a fractured left clavicle, scored the final goal of this year’s Stanley Cup Final to ensure the Blackhawks’ third Cup in the past six seasons.
Not a bad career, and it’s not even close to being done.
“You realize how hard of a trophy it is to win,” Kane said. “This year, for some reason, seemed the hardest one for us.”
It may have seemed difficult this season because, when Kane went down in late February, the original timeline had him out for up to 12 weeks. For Kane, that news was “devastating. It breaks your heart.” But he came back in seven; and while he didn’t have his biggest impact until the second round against the Minnesota Wild, when he scored five goals in four games, he was thrilled to be back for the entire run. It also helped that the Blackhawks’ spread-the-wealth mentality meant Kane didn’t have to play savior as soon as he returned.
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“I was in a position, when I came back from injury, not everything was thrown on my back and I didn’t have to carry that much of a load,” he said. “You want to produce and help the team but it wasn’t like everything was on my shoulders. The team played pretty well when I was out. When you get hurt, you’re not thinking too far ahead. You try to get back as soon as possible. I did everything I could to get back early and get back healthy, too.”
Kane has lifted another Cup and once again he played a big part in winning it, from his tremendous pre-injury regular season to his great post-injury playoffs. He may feel a tad old when he sees the young guys getting drafted now but he’s got plenty of years left to keep piling up points — and perhaps lift a few more Cups.
“To be 26 and have three Stanley Cups right now is pretty unbelievable for me,” Kane said. “It’s something you can dream about, look forward to when you’re younger. To say it would actually happen three times, you’d be fooling yourself. I’m very happy with my career.”