Kane back from Switzerland, hopes to stay in Chicago

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Kane back from Switzerland, hopes to stay in Chicago

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.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks battle Wild on CSN; UIC hosts Green Bay on CSN+

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks battle Wild on CSN; UIC hosts Green Bay on CSN+

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Tuesday on CSN+: UIC hosts Green Bay

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