Patrick Kane skated with the team for the first time since suffering his left-knee injury on March 19, and the Chicago Blackhawks right wing plans to be ready to roll when the playoffs begin next week.
Kane has skated five of the past six days, and he still won’t play until the postseason begins about a week from now. Wearing a brace while skating, Kane didn’t look hampered. He was moving well throughout the 30-plus minutes and was still skating long after the team wrapped up morning skate.
“The injury feels pretty good and I’m confident with it,” said Kane. “I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things. It’s nice to be out there with the team, too. When you’re skating alone with the coaches and they’re working you pretty hard it gets a little boring. So it’s nice to be on the ice with the team again, for sure.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said Kane and Jonathan Toews, who could start skating again as early as Thursday, are both on schedule to return to start the postseason. If anything, Quenneville said, this injury down time could be beneficial in terms of much-needed rest.
“I think those guys will be ready; they’ll be fresh and excited to play,” he said. “They’ve played a lot of big games in big settings and they’re accustomed to playing important minutes and playing a long time. They’ve played a lot of hockey the last year. I think this break with refresh them.”
Kane would love to get at least one regular-season game in before the postseason starts but that’s not going to happen. So he’ll do whatever it takes to be ready for the playoff puck drop.
“I did a lot of different things to try to get myself feeling well and get the rest needed to be ready for the playoffs,” he said. “You never want to be out of the lineup. We all love hockey. You love to be out there with your teammates and supporting them any way you can. At the same time, some people think it may be beneficial in the long run to take a little break, with the year we had last year and the Olympics and a lot of things we’ve been doing the last year and a half. It’s something you don’t like to happen but you try to think of it in a positive way.”
How long Kane wears the brace is unclear. Quenneville said it’s more precautionary and Kane said it’s not bothering him too much.
“We all try to wear some type of equipment when we go through injuries to protect it and make sure you’re not reinjuring something like that,” he said. “The technology’s pretty good these days; I have to get adjusted to it but a few little tweaks and I should be fine.”
Kane is healing right on schedule. He’s been skating and skating well. He’s been getting much-needed rest, even if this was a terrible way to get it. But the postseason is right around the corner, and he’ll be ready for it.
“You try to get comfortable and get out there so you can skate a few times and you can make sure you’re feeling the same way you did when you left the game, whether it was a couple of weeks ago or whatever,” Kane said. “That’s the biggest thing: trying to get back to normal and feeling as well as you did before.”