Kane embraces being center of attention

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Kane embraces being center of attention

It was less than two weeks ago when Joel Quenneville dropped the news in an oh-by-the-way fashion in Detroit: he was going to try Patrick Kane at center. It was an experiment, a chance to see what Kane, who had played center growing up, could do with it at this level.

It was surprising to hear. Even Kane, who said general manager Stan Bowman talked to him about playing center last summer, sounded a bit reluctant.

"Especially coming off the wrist injury I thought I was going right to right wing and just getting back into that," Kane said Wednesday. "But it's been good so far."

It's been so good that it's carrying over to Friday's season opener, when Kane will center his line with Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa when the Blackhawks play the Dallas Stars. Coach Joel Quenneville has liked what he's seen from that trio -- Kane and Hossa have a natural chemistry and Brunette is finding his niche with them -- and how Kane's adjusted.

"He'll continue to grow in that area but his instincts ard good on both sides," Quenneville said after the Blackhawks' preseason finale in Washington D.C. "He'll improve in his position down low."

For Kane, this has been one more job to add to the resume. It was one thing to have a center past as a kid, another to do it at this level. But his comfort level with Hossa has helped, and Hossa and Brunette have assisted him with the down-low play.

"We've talked about it, the three of us. We all have pretty good experience.They're down low first and they'll stay there and come up with pucks," Kane said. "Offensively hopefully we can just work our magic and be a good line."

Bowman, who is confident with the Blackhawks' depth at center, never doubted Kane's ability to play there.

"He's such a smart player," Bowman said. "I like watching him play with Marian. The one difficulty we've had is those two never played together because they played the same position. We like how that's worked so far."

Linemate Brunette said "the center has the puck a lot and that falls right into his strengths. It's a tough position in your own end, and that's probably something he feels the need to get used to. But it's something he can definitely do."

It sounds like Kane is embracing this challenge more now than a few weeks ago. He has said he wants to prove to others and to himself that he can play this spot.

It would still be surprising if Kane's at center come the end of the season. Then again, the experiment that seemed likely to last just a preseason game or two is continuing. As long as it works, Kane will stay put.

"Starting the regular season we'll do it a little bit," Kane said. "It would be nice to prove I can play center, that I can play a couple different positions, show some versatility for the coaches. There have been some good things and bad things. Hopefully I keep getting better at it."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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.