Hawk Talk: Kane brings Stanley Cup to Niagara Falls

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Hawk Talk: Kane brings Stanley Cup to Niagara Falls

Friday, Aug. 13, 2010

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

8:23 PM

BUFFALO, New York - Any anxiety Patrick Kane had from being stuck on a fire truck cherry-picker right in the middle of downtown Friday afternoon (that's how the firefighters thank him for sharing the Cup with them?!) was quickly worked off with a good ol' game of floor hockey.

The man who scored the goal who decided the Cup is apparently a regular at the indoor skating facility that's roller-rink on the weekends, floor hockey during the week. And boy, does "Spinners" have...uh...character.

Name me a diner you've seen before like the one that adjoins Spinners-where the sign outside promotes "BBQ & Custard." Inside? Almost 70's Flashback in the decor, the low ceilings, the dim lighting, and ventilation provided by huge, dust-caked fans. Maybe that's why its aroma was so unflattering as well.

But that gritty place in blue-collar, south Buffalo is where the NHL superstar who so often displays flash and dash on the ice gets the edge within that we don't often see.

There, in shorts and gym shoes, playing with and against his buddies (including neighborhood pal Tim Kennedy, who was just let go by the hometown Sabres), the competitive side of the kid is there for all to see, up close. Yeah, he was having fun. But in the first-to-five wins within a best-of-seven series, "88" put his game face on when his team trailed 3-0 in a potential Game 6 "clincher" for Cup bragging rights. He took the floor, scored once, set up a couple of others, as the black Blackhawks beat the red Blackhawks, 5-3. Another Cup celebration was on.

After going back home to shower and change, the night ended on a formal note. About 150 family members and friends gathered at a banquet facility. Kane entered with the Cup like a bride and groom after being introduced to cheers, then took the microphone to thank all who'd made the day possible. When he got to mom and dad, Donna and Pat, the magnitude of the day for the parents seemed to take a temporary emotional hold. Scotty Bowman was there, but preferred not to talk, saying it was Patrick's day and night. Ex-Sabre Brian Campbell was also scheduled to arrive and join in.

Kane then shared some final thoughts....that winning the Cup, and scoring the goal to win it, was finally starting to sink in. That he's already begun some off-season skating drills and has no doubt he'll be ready for training camp next month. That he'll welcome a greater leadership role to help guide the new, young Hawks in their attempt to fill the skates of his departed title 'mates.

He still doesn't know where his game-winning puck is. He's heard Jonathan Toews now has the heavyweight belt he won in the real Game 6 and thought he'd lost in the days of celebration that followed in Chicago. And finally, that he's scheduled to help out Jimmy Buffett at Toyota Park Saturday night with "Margaritaville." That'll come after some more stops here Saturday morning-at a cemetery, a rink, and a pizza joint before flying to back to Chicago.

I'll beat him there after a fun, unique, on-the-run 14-hour day chasing him around his hometown.

2:49 PM

BUFFALO, New York -- So upon arrival back at New Era from our previous entry, we encounter a traffic jam where a crowd is assembled around Kane atop a raised fire engine ladder with the Cup. Once we give up and get out of the taxi to walk the rest of the way, we learn ol' Ladder 2 was stuck in the "up" position a good 15-20 minutes, three stories up, and was finally being lowered as we approached. The kid and the Cup emerged no worse for the wear. He. Was smiling, the firemen weren't.

On another note, during that cab ride back, our driver volunteered that he knows the driver who "got into it" here nearly a year ago with Patrick and his cousin, and based on the driver's "rep" thinks Kane was set up that night, and he's felt like punching that guy, too.

And now - on the way to floor hockey - our caravan's made a sudden stop on Seneca Street for a momentary visit inside Hopper's Rush Inn. Kane says he'll be back at 10 tonight to those inside. Not sure if he meant the Cup, too.

2:07 PM

BUFFALO, New York -- As we feed in video from a local TV station that you'll see here on CSNChicago.com and on "SportsNite", an update from what's been a tightly-scheduled, whirlwind day with Patrick Kane and the Stanley Cup.

Upon departure from Niagara Falls, we stopped at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Just one camera was allowed into the rooms where the Blackhawks winger visited with young cancer patients, but when he emerged for a welcome and presentation in the hospital's lobby, it was evident he was moved and humbled by the challenges facing those he visited, and how fortunate those of us are who live life without thinking twice. I'm told it was an emotional experience for him and his family as they visited a handful of rooms, allowing patients and their families to experience the Cup, even joking they were more excited to see "it" than him.

Following a brief photo op at Kevin Guest House - an affordable home where parents and relatives of those patients are able to stay during their treatment, we moved down a couple of blocks where a new building's going up on Roswell's campus - a global vascular institute and research center. Kane took the Cup up six levels, where the ironworkers from Local 6 were probably just finishing up their lunch hour. The Cup was quite a dessert for the rowdy group, which was also joined by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. The workers held the Cup aloft, looking down on the hospital workers and curious passersby down below. They stood below a beam spray-painted 'PAT KANE WINS STANLEY CUP."

While we send video in and "88" signs some autographs and takes pictures at the New Era Store here with fans, policemen and firemen, we're getting set for some floor hockey back in the Orchard Park area, where the Cup will be on the line.

9:13 AM

We're heading back to downtown Buffalo on Patrick Kane's day with the Stanley Cup after an early start where the media covering his day gathered at his boyhood home, where his family still lives, and then took a small police-escorted caravan to the American side of Niagara Falls.

Upon exiting an elevator that descended 175 feet and opened at the tunnel leading to Cave of the Winds, we were greeted once into the open by a rainbow arching over the Falls beneath a clear sky. We couldn't linger at the site long, as Kane was hustled over with the Cup to the Hurricane Deck, renamed the Hurri-Kane Deck, which was situated between two rolling, thundering waterfalls. Once our photographer, Mike Cappozzo, carefully negotiated his way up the soaked wooden steps leading towards the deck, the force of the water provided an extra challenge to protecting the camera, much less the water spraying onto it.

Kane raised the Cup over his head in his red Hawks jersey, the water from the Falls behind him showering him, and then took turns with his dad Pat, mom Donna, his three sisters and other friends and relatives posing for photographers. He capped it off by then jumping into a small pond with his buddies before emerging for one final pose. Afterward, he said he'd only been to the Falls two or three times growing up, but the rush he got this time was indescribable.

Once back up to ground level, he and the Cup were part of a short presentation and welcome from the State Park and the mayor of Buffalo, with about 100 fans gathered around, including one family from Chicago, who missed the parade and hadn't come close to the Cup in Chicago. They just so happened to be vacationing in the area when they heard Kane was coming, and their timing worked out perfectly, staying a little longer this morning before hitting the road back home.

We'll continue checking in here on CSNChicago.com throughout this day in Kane's hometown with updates on its tour through Buffalo, plus we'll have all the glorious video on "SportsNite" at 6:30, 10:00 & midnight.

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling found out at 8 o'clock this morning that he was starting for an ailing Corey Crawford. Considering he did this back in December for a few weeks, adjusting quick for one game was fine.

"It's kind of my job," Darling said.

And Darling, once again, did his job.

Darling stopped 30 of 32 shots and Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games. They're one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who made their splashy trade-deadline move in acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, thanks to veterans regaining their form, a top line finding its rhythm and youth consistently improving, are just rolling right along.

"We had a great start to the game. I thought Darls was excellent all night, great stretch there in the last 10 minutes where we fight through some tough shifts, particularly in the last couple of minutes in our end. But good win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the nice plays on the goals, it was kind of a comparable ending to the outdoor game: tied and about the same time they scored, we scored (tonight). Big two points for us."

Jonathan Toews scored his 16th of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blackhawks already knew they'd be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for at least a day or two when they found out Crawford couldn't go this morning. As Quenneville said Darling was strong once again, denying the Blues all but twice (a 2-on-1 goal from Magnus Paajarvi and a power-play goal from Alex Pietrangelo).

Toews and Kane (power-play goal) staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early before the Blues tied it in the second. But late in the third period Anisimov took the feed from Artemi Panarin to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

"I saw the puck all the way. It was easy to pick up," Anisimov said. "When you don't see the puck at the last moment and it comes, it's hard to receive and prepare for the next move. But I saw it all the way. Easy to prepare for the next move."

Speaking of next moves, do the Blackhawks make any more before the trade deadline. General manager Stan Bowman said on Friday, following the acquisition of Tomas Jurco, that he'll keep talking and listening but likes the group he has right now. If Bowman's made moves it's for what the Blackhawks have needed, not because of another team's trades. The Blackhawks like what they have right now. Winning nine of 10 and continuing to trend in the right direction, they should be careful not to disrupt what they've got going.

"I think we're, as we've said lately, trending the right way. We're playing solid. I think all four lines are contributing in every which way," Toews said. "I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more and it's a lot of fun to see the way we're playing right now. We know that the ceiling is way higher and we can keep getting better too."

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

No Niklas Hjalmarsson, no Corey Crawford, no problem for the Blackhawks.

Certainly you want those two back as soon as possible. But while Hjalmarsson nurses an upper-body injury and Crawford deals with an illness, the Blackhawks just keep going. Credit their all-around game, which has continually gotten better in recent weeks and was there for the most part again in their 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.

The Blackhawks did what they wanted to during the Minnesota Wild’s bye: they won both games and just trail the Wild by a point now. So onward we go. Will anything happen by Wednesday afternoon, when the trade deadline hits? We’ll see but we’re also going to caution messing up what’s becoming more of a good thing by the day.

Anyway, onto the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ start. For the first half (or so) of the season you wondered why the first 20 minutes were so difficult. Like a few other glitches to their game, they’ve gotten past this one, too. The Blackhawks looked sharp at the start on Sunday night, with the top-line players (Nick Schmaltz pass and Jonathan Toews finish) once again giving them the 1-0 a few minutes into the game.

What Didn’t Work: The second period. A few things went wrong during the next 20 minutes. The Blackhawks’ possession dipped, their penalty kill failed and their power play had a quiet second chance. Perhaps some of that was the Blues waking out of their first-period slumber – they’re coming off a bye, and we’ve documented what happens off of those. But the Blackhawks did not follow up their great start accordingly.

Star of the game: Tempting to give it to Scott Darling, given the fact that he found out this morning he’d be getting the start after all in Corey Crawford’s illness absence. But Patrick Kane had a tremendous evening, too, from the power-play goal to the secondary assist on Artem Anisimov’s goal to playing extra minutes down the stretch. Can we call it a draw?

He Said It: “It’s certainly been fun to watch Schmatzy, particularly the last three games where he’s gone to a different level. And Hartsy’s [Ryan Hartman’s] been pretty good all year. Their development is important four our team success right now. We’ll need these guys right on through. We’ll still need some young guys as we’re going into it as well. The lineup on Wednesday, who knows? We’ll talk about it over the next couple of days and we’ll see what happens. Tough to say.” Coach Joel Quenneville on if the team will look any different following Wednesday’s trade deadline.

By the Numbers:

500 – Career points for Duncan Keith, who hit the milestone with his secondary assist on Patrick Kane’s power-play goal.

13 – points (five goals, eight assists) for Jonathan Toews during his current six-game point streak.

22 – Goals for Artem Anisimov, which ties a season high for him previously set in 2013-14 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

6 – Consecutive games in which Richard Panik has had at least one point, a career high. He has four goals and five assists in that stretch.