SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After getting past the news conference Thursday, the last three days weren’t too bad for Patrick Kane.
He watched Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech with his teammates on Saturday, and he was cheered loudly by fans during practices.
“It’s nice to be around my teammates and playing hockey,” Kane said. “When I’m on the ice, I’m just trying to focus on that. It definitely takes your mind off things.”
Kane is involved in a police investigation in Western New York. He was asked Sunday if he has a timetable for when that situation would be resolved. While a Hawks media-relations employee implored reporters to stick to hockey-related questions, Kane said he didn’t know anything about a timetable.
“It would all be speculation,” he said.
Kane looked somewhat rusty in practice, which probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone who has followed the news this summer.
“He’s a special player that I don’t think it’ll take him too long,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think that his friendliness with the puck is probably not as good as we’ve seen it. But I saw some growth in that every day he was on the ice.”
Kane echoed that and relished playing hockey again.
“I feel like I got better every day, and I feel like I’m trying some things out there to try and get back to where I feel comfortable,” he said. “But overall, I thought it was a fun weekend. It was a great event put on by Notre Dame. It’s always fun coming down here. I feel like it was good time spent here.”
Kane will need time, but maybe not too much. Though it’s a different situation, Kane was able to jump back into the lineup for the playoffs last season after suffering a broken left collarbone in February.
Quenneville alluded to that, and he doesn’t believe the expectations for Kane should be lowered.
“The thing is when he was skating last year coming off that injury, he was skating for some time before he got into games. And all of a sudden he was playing playoff games,” Quenneville said. “I think he’s quite familiar with what his strengths are and what his needs are to get himself ready. So he’ll be all right.”
Whether that’s true remains to be seen. For now, Kane can look forward to skating in an intrasquad scrimmage Monday at the United Center. If the crowds in South Bend are any indication, he can expect more loud cheers.
Though the questions and scrutiny won’t go away until his situation is resolved, it could be another good experience for Kane.
“I think I’ve gotten better this weekend, but I still want to keep improving,” Kane said. “I wouldn’t necessarily be happy where I am right now, but I feel like I’m confident and improving every day and trying to get to where I need to be by Oct. 7.”
Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.