Patrick Kane enjoyed his time over in Switzerland, enjoyed playing some actual hockey games these past few months. And while hes set to go back on Sunday if need be, Kanes hoping he doesnt have to.
Kane is back in Chicago while Swiss teams take a break, and joined past and present Blackhawks at their informal skate on Wednesday. And with optimism building that the lockout will soon be over, Kane hopes hell be lacing them up for Blackhawks training camp instead of heading back overseas.
Its tough to tell, to be honest with you with the whole thing. I was getting texts last week telling me Pack your bags. So Im not going to speculate anymore until someone tells me its done, Kane said after practice. But it would be nice not to have to go back Sunday, stay here and get ready for a training camp.
More: NHL, NHLPA to resume talks Wednesday
Yes, weve all been down the close-but-not-close road with the NHL-NHLPA talks. But there really does seem to be growing optimism as the two sides meet with mediators in an undisclosed location which is now reportedly New Jersey.
But during the nonstop lack of negotiation progress and there were months of that -- Kane was staying sharp. It was an experience, and a good on-ice one.
It was different, from the way you play in the 'D' zone to the bigger ice surface to playing with different players, too, he said. It was definitely different. But it was still hockey, I was still playing, and it really helped me get into shape and get my game where I want it to be.
Outside of hockey, life in Biel, Switzerland, was pretty quiet. He and fellow NHLers were recognized there mainly because the cars they drove had the team logo on it but it was otherwise a quiet time.
It wasnt bad. It was really peaceful, Kane said. The toughest part was the language barrier. First language is German, then French, and they speak some English. It was tough to communicate over there. But everyone on the team speaks English, and it was nice having my mom there for a while to make me a meal and just help me with certain things."
More: Mayers says NHL, NHLPA are close, remain optimistic
If Kane does go back, he wont be going with his mom again. He said hell bring his girlfriend. He also said, if the lockout continues, hell also play for HC Davos in Spengler Cup, Dec. 26-31 in Switzerland.
But Kane hopes the lockout is resolved soon, that hes staying put in Chicago for a while, and that hell be prepping for training camp instead of another overseas flight.
Its something you dont really want to do. You want it to be over and done with, Kane said. Its an experience Ill never forget but life is much better here. You dont realize how good you have it here with training staff, equipment managers; youre taken care of so well. But Im glad I did it.