Kane back from Switzerland, hopes to stay in Chicago

923303.png

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.

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Michal Kempny was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup last season but he’ll likely get a bigger opportunity this coming season. On Saturday, he was assured of coming back to get that chance.

Kempny and the Blackhawks agreed to a one-year extension, the team announced on Saturday morning.

“Michal’s style of play is an asset to our defense,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is the type of player who will continue to improve now that he has transitioned to the National Hockey League. We look forward to his continued development on the ice for the Blackhawks.”

Kempny was part of a very crowded blue line last season — he was one of eight defensemen at the start of it — and played 50 regular-season games. He recorded two goals and six assists in those contests but did not play in the Blackhawks’ four postseason contests. With Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell likely not returning, however, Kempny should get a bigger opportunity this season.

The 26-year-old Kempny also had two goals and an assist in eight games for the Czech Republic team at the 2017 World Championship.

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.

A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.

A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.

Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.

Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.