BUFFALO, N.Y. – Part of what Patrick Kane loves about Buffalo, his hometown, is that he can blend in and simply be a regular guy. It’s one of the reasons he makes his summer home here.
“I don’t get any star treatment,” Kane said today inside the First Niagara Center prior to tonight’s game against the Sabres. “Maybe people recognize you here and there. Except for maybe today, throughout the summer I feel like I’m a regular 25 year-old guy. That’s one of the reasons I come back. That’s one of the best parts about it.”
Kane hasn’t spent much time in Buffalo during the season, however. Tonight will be only his fourth NHL appearance here and first since Oct. 12, 2010. He’s only played seven total games against the Sabres, compiling three goals and six points.
With the new schedule, the winger will visit Buffalo once a season.
“It’s something that’ll happen every year from here on out,” Kane said. “But up until this year it feels like I haven’t played here in a while. It’s exciting being back home, seeing some family and friends last night.”
Kane visits are a popular event. A few hundred fans attended this morning after the Sabres opened the skate to the public.
Kane said Sabres winger Cory Conacher texted him and asked if he could wear No. 88. Buffalo claimed Conacher off waivers from Ottawa on Wednesday. The two skate together during the summer.
“He just texted me, he’s like, ‘I’m going to wear your number in Buffalo, is that all right?’” Kane said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, you don’t need to be asking me about that stuff. It’s fine.’”
Sharp honors his idol
Growing up in Winnipeg, Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp idolized Mike Modano, even wearing No. 9 in honor of the former Dallas Stars superstar.
“I just loved the way he played, his style on the ice, how hard he competed,” Sharp said. “I got to meet him a few times off the ice and he was an awesome guy.”
Sharp couldn’t watch the Stars’ lengthy jersey retirement ceremony for Modano on Saturday, although he said he heard about it.
“It was pretty cool,” he said.
During Modano’s final regular-season game with Detroit in 2011, Sharp told him he was his favorite player and “the best player ever.”
Modano was waiting for Sharp in the hallway after the game.
“It meant a lot to kind of talk to him off the ice on that kind of level,” said Sharp, who has a jersey and a stick with a personal message from Modano.
Defenseman David Rundblad, acquired Tuesday from Phoenix, will make his Blackhawks debut tonight beside Nick Leddy.
“We’ll see how that pair works out,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think every day since he’s been here, I see him picking up his tempo in his game.”