SOUTH BEND, Ind. – When Patrick Kane stepped onto the ice for the first scrimmage of training camp the already-amped fans continued to roar. When his assist was announced, the Compton Family Ice Arena erupted with applause for the Blackhawks star.
Kane, who said he didn’t know what the reaction would be, clearly relished how he was received.
“That’s a pretty cool reaction, especially, you know, given the circumstances,” Kane said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I thought it was … you know, it’s one of those things when you’re going out on the ice, you don’t know what’s going to happen, and to hear that reaction from the crowd, it definitely gave me chills. So, it was an exciting moment.”
Kane is involved in an ongoing police investigation in Western New York, but he was welcomed with open arms Friday. Fans wearing his 88 jersey dotted the arena – though any gear with his name and number wasn’t on display at a temporary team shop – and Kane said teammates were glad to see him.
Even if he didn’t want to share much of what they talked about.
“I will say that all my teammates have been supportive. I think they all seemed excited to see me the first day of camp,” Kane said. “Like anyone else after summer, you see all your teammates, it’s exciting to see everyone. Try to catch up and start the season off the right way.”
Those teammates didn’t seem to think Kane owed them an explanation or an apology.
“I don’t think so,” Bryan Bickell said. “We don’t owe him anything or he doesn’t owe us anything. It’s just thing things that we need to move on from.”
Marian Hossa echoed that.
“I don’t think he owes anything,” Hossa said.
Regardless of whether he owes apologies or explanations – or if he should be at camp at all – Kane is getting ready for the season after a summer with name in the headlines. He said Friday was the first time he’d skated in a while, and that he was rusty.
Jonathan Toews didn’t see that rust.
“Same old. He makes it look easy,” Toews said. “I think a lot of guys are struggling to shake that rust off and get things going and he just goes out there and plays the game and things are going smooth for him. It’s good to see that.”
On Thursday when Kane spoke for the first time and then Friday, the Hawks tried to focus as much as they could on the ice. There were some bumpy on-ice moments that showed how early it is in camp.
Coach Joel Quenneville said “I think it was business as usual.”
“First day at school – everybody’s excited to be back and be part of it like we were today,” Quenneville said. “I thought that was more of the focus.”
Of course, that’s not the focus for everybody.
Thursday’s news conference is still pinging around social media, and the Hawks are getting attention for reasons beyond hockey and how they’ll replace Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya and others.
“Well, I think it’s obviously a different situation. But at the same time we’ve gone through a lot here as a team with having to deal with different things,” Duncan Keith said. “Obviously, like Tazer said, it’s probably something that nobody really wants to deal with. I’m sure Kaner would be the first to say that.
“I think we’ve addressed those type of things yesterday and today was a good day to start camp.”