Patrick Kane delighted to ‘make a run’ at Cup with Rangers

Greg WyshynskiESPN5 minute read

Wilbon: “Thank you for everything, Patrick Kane”

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon reflect on Patrick Kane’s tenure in Chicago following his trade to the Rangers.

Patrick Kane, who makes his New York Rangers debut on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, said he hasn’t been this nervous about a regular season game in a very long time.

After 1,161 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Kane is playing for another franchise for the first time after an NHL trade deal.

Kane, 34, waived his no-move clause to join the Rangers, leaving a rebuilding squad for a team ready to make a run for its first Stanley Cup since 1994. But he also left a legacy after 16 years in Chicago, where he helped the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup victories.

“You definitely have back and forth in your head a bunch of times about what was right,” Kane said during an introductory press conference ahead of Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden. “It wasn’t the easiest decision, but I’m really excited to be here. With the amount of skill and good players they have here, it’s another chance to have a run.”

Rangers acquired Kane in a three-team deal on Monday, giving up three draft picks and defender Andy Welinski. Kane, a right winger, has 45 points in 54 games this season, including 16 goals. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season and said he has not yet considered whether Rangers will extend his contract.

The trade ended days of speculation that Kane would waive his no-move clause to facilitate a deal with Rangers, while New York made necessary salary cap changes.

“The team was waiting for him, like all of us,” said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “You’re hoping, you’re not sure what’s going to happen. It seems like a long wait, even though it’s not.”

Kane said he was unsure of the timing of his decision to waive his no-move clause and join Rangers, but there were ‘small steps’ on the way to it . He noted that the Blackhawks were rebuilding, but he still had a decision to make about stepping out of his comfort zone.

There was a moment when Kane expressed disappointment that a trade to the Rangers didn’t materialize: when New York traded Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 9 to fill their right-wing need.

At the time, Kane said he was “not the happiest” to see the decision made, knowing that the Rangers were in talks to acquire him from Chicago.

“I think sometimes the comments are a little over the top,” Kane said Thursday. “I wasn’t extremely angry at the situation when they made the move for Tarasenko. It just didn’t seem to be in the cards. [for a trade] still be an option.”

Kane smiled then.

“Now I’m obviously very happy that they made this decision,” he said.

Tarasenko will play on a line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, while Kane will line up with center Vincent Trocheck and an old friend, left wing Artemi Panarin, who skated with Kane in Chicago from 2015-17.

“Today is the first time I’ve seen him in a long time,” Kane said. “He’s a fun guy to be around. I’ve definitely missed him for the past six years. We picked up where we left off. Hopefully it’s the same on the ice.

“It may not be as easy as everyone thinks. There may be bumps in the road, but hopefully in due time we can figure it out.”

Gallant said having Panarin on the roster would help Kane’s comfort level as a Ranger.

“It’s brand new for him. He’s been a Chicago Blackhawk his whole career,” Gallant said. “I’m sure he’s going to be very nervous playing with new teammates. Fortunately, [Panarin] is there to help. It’s good when you have people you know a bit here.”

Kane said he was looking forward to rekindling that chemistry and that Panarin was one of the reasons he waived his no-move clause from Rangers.

While reuniting with a former Blackhawks teammate, Kane had to say goodbye to another, captain Jonathan Toews. They both debuted in 2007-08 and led Chicago to a cap-era dynasty. Toews walked away from the Blackhawks on Feb. 20 due to prolonged COVID-19 symptoms and chronic immune response syndrome.

“We played together for so many years,” Kane said. “It won’t be as normal as usual. It was a great race. It’s going to be weird not being with him.”

Kane is now part of the MSG family; New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson wore a Kane jersey during Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. Brunson lived outside of Chicago during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victories and said Kane was “just a legend” to him.

Kane said he ran into Brunson at the Rangers training facility, which they share with the Knicks, on Wednesday. Kane also FaceTimed Brunson’s father and said he would like to attend a Knicks game to support him.

“The energy in the city and throughout the organization is pretty high right now,” Kane said. “It’s great to be a part of it.”

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