Patrick Kane was surrounded by a sizable media throng on Wednesday, his first day practicing with the Chicago Blackhawks since returning from Sochi.
He seemed to be in the same boat as other Blackhawks Olympians: a little tired, adjusting to the time changes but nevertheless happy to be back. And just as happy that he participated, despite that outcome.
“It’s one of those experiences you look back on and you’ll never forget,” he said. “Playing in Russia for your country, it’s a pretty amazing experience. I had a blast with it. Obviously you wish things would have gone differently, but overall it was a great experience for me.”
We’ve been through Team USA’s disappointing Olympic outing ad nauseam. As far as Kane’s game, he came up empty in the goal department, including two missed penalty shots against Finland in the bronze-medal game. But Kane’s back with the Blackhawks now and ready to regain the game he’s had for most of this season. While some fans will worry about whether it’ll return, his head coach won’t.
“I think the consistency of his game this year is the best we’ve seen it throughout his career here,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He had an outstanding start but game in, game out he’s been very effective. Whether his production is high or not in games, I still think he has the puck a lot. He’s doing a lot of good things to control the shifts when he’s on the ice and generating some stuff offensively. Defensively, he’s improved his game. To produce at that (early) rate all year long is a pretty tough challenge. But we’ve liked the way he’s played all year.”
Jonathan Toews said several players struggled to generate a lot of offense over in Sochi. He’s guessing Kane returns to form quickly with the Blackhawks. Toews said the Winter Olympics may give Kane a jolt, too.
“I think if anything, it’s going to motivate him to play better the rest of the season,” he said. “He’s been having a great year so far and I’m sure his team didn’t have the success he wanted to. But I don’t think that’s going to slow him down.”
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As for those Olympics, the tournament was considered a failed one for Team USA in the end. Was it a step back for the program? Kane says no.
“We had a tough game against Canada and it’s tough after a loss like that to play the next night,” Kane said of the 1-0 loss to the eventual gold-medal winners. “We knew (Saturday’s game) was for bronze. Our thoughts going in were gold or nothing, and when you get that ripped away and still have a chance to play for a medal, it’s still tough. We were playing against a team like Finland, (it) probably appreciate those bronze medals more than maybe we could. It would’ve been nice to bring it home but it didn’t work out that way. But I still thought we proved that we’re a good hockey country.”