By Brian Hedger
For the Sun-Times
Patrick Kane’s season keeps getting better, and it’s not even half over.
The Blackhawks’ star right wing has strung together a record 26-game point streak and holds a comfortable lead in the NHL’s points race with 23 goals and 56 points.
Saturday morning, another feat was added when it was announced that Kane will be one of four captains for the 2016 NHL All-Star game at the end of the month, as determined by fan voting. Kane will also be honored for his point streak on Sunday night with a pregame ceremony at the United Center, prior to a game against Ottawa.
“At first, when they tell you about it, you don’t know if it’s something that warrants a pregame ceremony,” said Kane, whose streak set a franchise record and became the new mark for American-born NHL players. “But when you think about it and people kind of explain it to you, what records were set and what happened in the streak, it makes you think that it’s going to be pretty fun.”
The ceremony will include a video montage of the streak and will conclude with a presentation from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.
“Obviously, I’m honored that the Blackhawks would do something like that, and for those 26 games, it was a fun little run,” Kane said.
More fun is on tap when Nashville hosts the NHL’s All-Star weekend at the end of the month. Kane is always a fan favorite during the skills competition, but now there’s an added draw of watching him and others display elite skills during three 20-minutes games of a 3-on-3 tournament pitting teams from each of the NHL’s four divisions.
Kane will captain the Central Division’s team.
“I think that’s what everybody’s talking about this year, is how exciting the overtimes are and how exciting it is to watch 3-on-3 hockey,” he said. “So, you’re going to get a lot of skilled guys out there, (and) you’re going to see a lot of goals. It’s going to be fun for the fans to watch, just like it would be in overtime.”
Recent All-Star games have fizzled because most players put more effort into avoiding injuries than competing.
“I think it’s now on the players just to play hard and make sure that we’re having fun, whether it’s competing offensively or making sure we try and put a good show on for the fans,” Kane said.
Former Blackhawks enforcer John Scott, who plays for Arizona, was voted captain of the Pacific Division. Scott’s sense of humor and fighting prowess make him popular wherever he goes, but some feel he should decline.
Scott, who has one assist in 11 games and was scratched against Edmonton on Saturday, said he will play. That was the answer Kane wanted to hear.
“I guess they do it by the (fan) votes now, and hopefully (he) shows up, because I think it will be something that will be good for the game and bring some more excitement to that All-Star game,” Kane said. “Knowing the type of guy he is, hopefully he does it. It’d be great for the sport.”
BICKELL FRUSTRATED: Bryan Bickell skated outside the top four lines at practice and will likely be a healthy scratch against the Senators.
It would be the second straight game Bickell is scratched, after being recalled from the AHL on Dec. and playing 12 straight games. He has no goals and two assists in 19 games with the Blackhawks.
“I think this whole year’s been frustrating, with getting sent down, and (this is) another thing that you can just put on the back burners and look forward,” Bickell said. “This is a new year on the calendar. I’ve just got to let whatever’s in the past go and keep going forward.”