It is amazing how Patrick Kane stick handles. For his weight and size it would be hard for many to believe he plays in the NHL let alone being one of its greatest stars. As we can see from the above video it is hard to believe. Kevin Allen, of USA TODAY Sports on February 3, 2014 wrote “The truth is everything on the video 3 million people have viewed is real, except Kane breaking the camera lens. It took him only 20 minutes to film the sequence. Certainly no one who knew Kane growing up in Buffalo was surprised by his stick-handling artistry. Kane never was without a stick in his hand and a ball on its blade. Golf ball. Hard plastic balls. Weighted balls. Whatever was available, Kane used. “When we would travel to tournaments, he would stickhandle into the hotels,”
Pat Sr. said. “We would go in the back door, and he would stickhandle up the stairs to the second or third floor.” Kane was the ultimate rink rat. One season, his dad estimates he played 300 games. He moved away, for hockey reasons, when he was a high school freshman. He played at Detroit Country Day for a year, then played for the U.S. National Team Development Program and then finally for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. Kane’s determination to succeed was evident at an early age. “He was always going, going and going,” Donna Kane recalled. “One morning, he had an early practice, and I had to get him up at 5:30. I said, you have to get up for practice, and he said, ‘Ohhhh.” Reading the signals that her son needed a break, Donna immediately said he didn’t have to go. She wanted him to sleep in. “He said, ‘Do you think it’s all right?’ And I said, ‘It’s fine, Pat,'” Donna said. “But before I got to the door, ‘No, No. I’m up. I’m going. I’m going.’ … He just wasn’t going to miss it.” One summer, over a 10-week span, Kane spent nine weeks in hockey schools in Buffalo. “The 10th week we couldn’t find a hockey school for him to go to,” Pat Sr. said.”
As we can see Patrick Kane had an internal drive to reach his dreams. Jockbio.com writes the following about Kane “Patrick’s organized hockey started on the C-line in the mite division in Cazenovia, a suburb of Syracuse. It was there, along with the support and help of his father, that Patrick learned the fundamentals of skating, stick handling and the concept of the game. His skills improved as he got older, as did his dedication and passion.
As a family, the Kanes had made the decision to cultivate their son’s interest in hockey. For Kiki, the commitment became a seven-day-a-week job. He drove Patrick to as many as four rinks a day. In addition to the regular games, his dad chauffeured him to tryouts and paid the fees just to get his son on the ice. The tryouts were often in an upper age category, which not only gave Patrick familiarity with that level but also a chance to learn what it takes to be a better player. Many times, Kiki had no intention of having his son play for the team that was holding the tryouts.
Patrick’s skills began to improve. His advanced talents became apparent while playing in a summer league in Wheatfiled. In fact, Patrick scored so many goals that a group of parents became upset and petitioned league officials to bar nine-year-old. When Kiki spoke with the league, an offer for a full refund was made if Patrick played elsewhere. Father and son scouted a league for older players. They agreed that Patrick could handle the advancec competition.
Throughout his youth hockey days, Patrick was considered small. There were concerns and whispers that his size might hinder his success when checking began. Patrick had been roughed up bumped and shadowed on every shift in Mite hockey. But the physical play didn’t faze him. At times, he seemed to thrive on it.
From Mites to Bantams, Patrick played on four teams—CYPA, West Seneca, the Buffalo Regals and the Buffalo (Depew) Saints. Going from rink to rink and team to team, the Kanes were entrenched in a whirlwind hockey existence. Patrick was skating in upwards of 300 games a year.
Patrick’s commitment to hockey was matched by his parent’s devotion to his success. His mother and father supported him as long as he continued to enjoy it. Kiki andDonna realized that there was a fine line between pushing him too hard and helping him cultivate his obvious gifts. That fine line became even thinner when, at age 14, he was approached by the Honeybaked AAA Midget team, in Detroit.
ON THE RISE
For the Kanes, the offer from Honeybaked was the chance of a lifetime. Patrick would learn the game playing for a respected major Midget team and potentially earn a college scholarship. Those pros outweighed the major con before them—Patrick would have to move to Michigan.
But when the family found out that Patrick would be living with Pat Verbeek, Honeybaked’s assistant coach and a former NHL All-Star, it helped tip the scales. Verbeek had played for five NHL teams—New Jersey Devils, Harford Whalers, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars and the Detroit Red Wings—scoring 533 goals over a career that spanned 21 seasons. He won the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.
At 5-9, Verbeek had a lot in common with Patrick. Known as the “Little Ball of Hate” during his playing days, he had to scrap for every goal he scored. His grit and tenacity were characteritics that Patrick could emulate.
In August of 2002, Donna drove her son the 215 miles from Buffalo to Detroit. On the way, Patrick assured his mother that he’d be okay.
During his first few months in Detroit, Patrick went through tough times. At first he didn’t like the new environment. He was homesick and tired, but he slowly began to realize that each day he was getting closer to his dream of playing in the NHL. Patrick absorbed all he could. He learned a lot from the competition on the ice, the training off of it and the coaching staff, especially from Verbeek. He was often commended for his offensive game, but the issue of his size continued to linger.
Height and weight notwithstanding, Patrick’s focus and commitment did not go unnoticed by the hockey community. Who could ignore a 14-year-old that posts 83 goals and 160 points in 70 games?
The London Knights, an Ontario League Midget team, picked Patrick in the 5th round of the 2004 OHL draft. Patrick decided to turndown the Knights until the 2006-07 season, however, choosing instead to join the U.S. U-18 National Team Development Program. He spent two years under the tutelage and direction of the NTDP system and led the team in scoring. In 121 games, he recorded 172 points (90 goals, 82 assists), breaking Phil Kessel’s old scoring record.
In 2006, Patrick participated in his first international tournament as a member of the gold medal winning U-18 United States team. From there he was named to the American squad for the World Junior Hockey Championships. The U.S. came away with the bronze medal behind Canada and Russia. In seven games, Patrick had nine points (5 goals, 4 assists and a +2 rating) and was selected as one of top two stars in three contests. He was also named as one of the tournament’s Al-Stars along side teammate Erik Johnson and Canada’s Jonathan Toews.
Patrick’s performance had college hockey recruiters watching him closely. Powerhouse programs like Boston College and the University of Michigan offered scholarships, but hemade good on his commitment to the Knights. His belief was that London coach Dale Hunter, a former NHL All-Star and owner of the second-most penalty minutes in NHL history, would help him better prepare for life as a pro.
Another advantage of playing in the OHL was the number of games on the schedule. With the Knights, Patrick could expect to see twice as much ice time. He jioned the team for the beginning of the 2006-07 season. Hunter placed him on an unstoppable line with future NHL stars Sergei Kostitsyn and Sam Gagner. In all, they totaled 394 points, with Patrick tallying 145 points of his own. In doing so, he became only the second rookie in Knights’ history to reach 100 points. The first was Dave Simpson, who scored 155 points during the 1981-82 season.
Patrick’s 100th point for London was an ovation-evoking goal with 1:44 left in the third period of a tie game. After the crowd finished honoring him, they continued to cheer on their team to a sudden death victory.
As Patrick navigated his way up the hockey ranks, his relationship with his parents, especially his father, took a new direction. Kiki had become less of a hockey director and more of a fan. He sold his partnership in a Jeep dealership in order to drive to as many OHL games as weather permitted. For Kiki, being able to witness his son’s success was deeply satisfying.
At the end of the 2006-07 season, Patrick earned three OHL honors—the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy for most goals scored in the season, the Emms Family Award for Rookie of the Year and the Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy for the highest scoring right winger. He was runner-up to John Tavares for the league’s MVP. Rumors began touting Patrick as a potential number one draft pick in the upcoming NHL draft. But his size continued to concern some critics.
The Blackhawks owned the first pick in ’07 and had a tough decision. Chicago GM Dale Tallon had begun to assemble a steady lineup, including Toews, acquired in the previous year’s draft. Back in 1980, the Blackhawks had been in a similar position. That year, they tabbed Denis Savard—a big-time scorer in the juniors around whom they built a competitive club. Savard was now the team’s head coach. He loved Patrick. So did Talon. The Blackhawks thumbed their noses at the naysayers and took Patrick with the top selection.”
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