Patrick Kane looks forward to special reunion with Blackhawks fans

Patrick Kane looks forward to special reunion with Blackhawks fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It’s been one year to the day since Patrick Kane bid Blackhawks fans adieu in his last home game at the United Center. On Sunday, he’ll return for the first time as a visiting player in what’s sure to be an emotional night for fans and likely for Kane, as well.

The Blackhawks legend spoke about the impending reunion with the Athletic’s Scott Powers this week, stating he’s looking forward to seeing the fanbase that cheered him on for 16 years.

“The fans there were incredible,” Kane said. “From day one, just supporting me as a first overall pick and a young kid and coming in and trying to grow my game in front of that fan base and feel the support was really special. Obviously, through our playoff runs and even in some tough times as well, I always felt the support from the fans. … So, it’ll be fun to go back and just share that moment with the fans. Not really sure what to expect or what’s gonna happen, but it’s going be a fun night.”

Kane never got a proper United Center sendoff. He was traded to the Rangers three days before deadline while the team was on a West Coast road trip. It was suspected that Feb. 21, 2023 could be his last home game with the Blackhawks, but it wasn’t certain. The most fans in attendance and watching at home got was a postgame stick salute. Kane admitted even he saw himself resigning with the Blackhawks.

“If they came to me and said, ‘We want you to be a Blackhawk for life. Can we work something out?’ I think it probably would have been tough to say no, just because of what happened there and the success we had and just the relationship with the organization,” Kane said.

Jonathan Toews, on the other hand, got a marvelous goodbye celebration from the organization when he played his final home game last season. The team announced prior to the last game of the season they were parting ways with their longtime captain and pulled out all the stops, with highlight reels, video tributes and speeches throughout the evening. Toews is excited for the his former teammate to have his moment with the fans on Sunday.

“I’ll definitely tune in,” Toews told Powers via text on Tuesday. “I’m sure it’ll be strange to be back in that building with hardly any former teammates to play against. I hope he enjoys the night, I’m sure he’ll get an unbelievable reaction from the fans.”

Kane is sure to receive a hero’s welcome, but a large chunk of the standing ovation will be performed by fans wearing the No. 98. The city grieved the loss of Kane and Toews, two of the most beloved figures in Chicago sports history, for less than four months before Connor Bedard fell into its lap. A sparkly new diamond healed the wounds of a broken dynasty. It’s a new era in Chicago. And the three-time Stanley Cup champion and former Hart Trophy winner is glad the franchise is in good hands.

“It’s good,” Kane said of Bedard. “I think it’s good for the league that he’s in Chicago. Chicago is such a great hockey market. And I think he can really build himself there and become a prominent player. He already is very promoted around the league, which I think is good. It gives the league and different fans around the league something to get to be excited about. You can see that with the Winter Classic and other things he’s involved in with. It’s good. I know they’re trying to rebuild something there. Seems like that’s definitely the way you want to start off, with a player like that.”

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