How Patrick Kane Helped Us Fall in Love with the Blackhawks

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So long, Showtime — A Goodbye to Patrick Kane

Chicago Blackhawks

The Patrick Kane era in Chicago came to an unceremonious end on Tuesday. And while we had time to prepare for this day, it still didn’t feel great.

As a kid from Chicago, I’ve always been chapped that I just missed the window in which I was old enough to truly appreciate Michael Jordan’s greatness. I was only eight years old when he knocked down the famous jumper over Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. I watched it and I celebrated it. But I was too young to truly appreciate it.

For those who were old enough to appreciate that moment, I’m willing to bet they could recreate the scene: where they were, who they were with, what they did afterward. My other two favorite teams, the Bears and White Sox, have stunk for most of my life; flashes in the pan here and there, but no sustained special times.

However, the Blackhawks put together something extraordinary during a point in my life when I could appreciate what I was watching. The Blackhawks were the sport’s soundtrack of my 20s, and Patrick Kane was the lead singer.

June 9, 2010

The funny thing about the first Stanley Cup is that I — and thousands of others — had just fallen in love with or rekindled our love for the Blackhawks in the latter half of the 2000s. Kane. Toews. Q. Chelsea Dagger. The Madhouse. Sharpy, Seabs, Keith, and Big Buff. There was no shortage of reasons to fall in love with that team, whether it was the first time or otherwise.

I remember being at the bar with my Dad and one of my best friends to this day, Chris. I wasn’t even old enough to be in a bar; I had just turned 20 a few weeks before. But, you know how things go sometimes. Anyway, I’ll never forget the momentary confusion, followed by the eruption of cheers when Patrick Kane snuck the game-winner past Michael Leighton. No one knew that the puck had gone in except for Kane. Kane and Patrick Sharp began to celebrate while everyone looked at each other in confusion for what was no more than a second but seemed like minutes.

Once the rest of the hockey world caught up to Kane and Sharp, the celebration was on. The first Stanley Cup Championship in Chicago since 1961.

My Dad, Chris, and I left one bar to head to another local bar. I remember being at a stop light and Chris hopping out and running around the intersection, waving his shirt above his head. Cars beeped, and drivers cheered. Even the police car at the intersection didn’t care. The Blackhawks were the champs. But also, we were the champs.

June 24, 2013

Three years later, the Blackhawks were back in the Stanley Cup Finals—this time against the Boston Bruins. This time was different. The Blackhawks weren’t the kids or the underdogs trying to snap a near-half-century championship drought.

They were the team that won 36 of the 48 regular season games they played in a lockout-shortened season. That’s a .750 winning percentage for the record. Things were different.

The scene for this one also differed for me—no bar or intersection streaking stories in this one. I watched all six games with friends and family at my parent’s house. It was an event and some of my best sports memories. I also got to experience this one with my children and eventual wife. My son was three, My daughter was four months old.

The series started with a triple overtime thriller. It ended with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scoring two goals in 17 seconds as the third period wound down, securing the second Stanley Cup Finals championship in the One Goal era.

When the horn sounded at The Garden in Boston, I had my son on my shoulders so that he could see the moment over the sea of adult heads piled into my parent’s living room. The Blackhawks were champions again. We were champions again.

June 15, 2015

Unlike in 2013, the Blackhawks didn’t steamroll the competition in the regular season. Instead, they finished third in the Central Division. Still, they had the experience to find their way to another Stanley Cup Finals, their second in three years (should have been three in three, but I digress).

Game 6 was on my wife Erika’s birthday. But we stayed home and watched the game in our apartment with the kids. A far cry from the drunken shenanigans that defined the memories of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals for me.

We watched the Blackhawks and Lighting head into the second period in a scoreless tie. Duncan Keith broke the tie in the second period. We danced to Chelsea Dagger with the kids in the living room. Madison was two, and Patrick was six.

Fittingly, Kane lit the lamp in the third period to make it 2-0, sealing the deal. The Blackhawks would raise Stanley Cup No. 3 in the One Goal era.

Patrick Kane was the greatest Blackhawk of my lifetime, and probably yours too.

Kane departs the Blackhawks having recorded 1,225 points (446G, 779A) in 1,161 regular-season games over 16 NHL seasons. He ranks second in franchise history in assists (779) and points (1,225) and ranks third in goals (446) and games played (1,161).

He’ll never have the chance to chase down the top spots in those areas now. But he doesn’t need to. For 16 seasons, Kane dazzled the United Center crowd with spin-o-rama after spin-o-rama, and every clutch goal, filthy dangle, and sliding celebration in between.

  • Three Stanley Cups.
  • 10 trips to the playoffs.
  • 132 points (52G, 80A) in 136 postseason contests.
  • Nine All-Star appearances.
  • A Calder Trophy, a Conn Smyth, an Art Ross, Lindsay, and Hart.
  • A silver medal for Team USA.

The list goes on. Patrick Kane is widely regarded as the greatest American-born player ever to play the game of hockey. He’s undoubtedly the greatest player to don a Blackhawks sweater regardless of origin.

Of course, not everything was playoff mullets and finger-wag celebrations.

Not everything was perfect during Kane’s 16-year run in Chicago. For a while, it felt like for every mesmerizing goal on the ice, there was a Sun-Times headline with something equally stupid off the ice.

There was a physical altercation with a 62-year-old Buffalo cab driver when Kane was 20. A shirtless night out with women and teammates in a limousine in Vancouver, a Cinco de Mayo bender at the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

Kids will be kids, right?

But the story doesn’t end with the youthful indiscretions of a 20-something-year-old.

In 2015, Kane was accused of rape. In the end, the accusation was dismissed. Still, Kane again put himself and the Blackhawks in a vulnerable position. He was at least guilty of failing to protect himself and the team that stood by him after every drunken escapade.

Patrick Kane is about a year and a half older than I am. I know that I made many mistakes as a 20-something-year-old.

We all did.

We all have to grow up. Some of us do faster than others. That’s life. Nonetheless, Kane’s off-ice growth is as much a part of the story as his first-ballot Hall of Fame on-ice career was.

So long, Showtime.

I referenced the fact that the 2010 team was the team that helped us all fall in love with the Blackhawks. Whether you had left and returned or were there for the first time, you have Patrick Kane to thank.

Kane, Toews, and the gang breathed new life into a dying franchise. They gave me the legendary sports memories that had been missing from my life. Memories I will never forget.

When I tell my son about him on my shoulders to watch the 2013 Finals clincher.

When we explain to our daughter that her name is Madison because Mom and Dad met at the Madhouse on Madison.

When we talk about the greatest era of Blackhawks hockey. We’re talking about Patrick Kane.

This isn’t goodbye. It’s see you later. One day 88 will hang from the rafters of the United Center, and Patrick Kane will forever be a Blackhawk again. Until then, thanks for all of the memories, and good luck in New York, Kaner.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.