Greg WochinskyESPN4 minutes to read
Patrick Kane, who will make his debut with the New York Rangers on Thursday against the Senators in Ottawa, said he hasn’t been nervous about a regular season game in a very long time.
After 1,161 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Kane is playing for another franchise for the first time following a final trade in the NHL.
Kane, 34, waived his no-movement clause to join the Rangers, leaving a rebuilding team for someone poised to make their first Stanley Cup run since 1994. But he also left a legacy after 16 years in Chicago, where he helped the Blackhawks notch three Stanley Cup victories. .
“You definitely go back and forth in your head a few times about what was right,” Kane said during a pre-game press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden. “It wasn’t the easiest decision, but I’m really excited to be here. With the amount of skill and good players they have here, it’s another chance to run.”
The Rangers acquired Kane as part of a three-team deal on Monday, and gave up three draft picks and defenseman Andy Wilenski. Right wing Kane has 45 points in 54 games this season, including 16 goals. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season and said he has not yet considered whether the Rangers will extend his contract.
The trade ended days of speculation that Kane would waive his no-movement clause to facilitate a deal for the Rangers, while New York took the necessary salary cap steps.
“The team has been waiting for it, like all of us,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “You’re hoping, you’re not sure what’s going to happen. It seems like a long wait, even though it wasn’t.”
Kane said he was unsure about the timeframe for his decision to waive his no-movement clause and join Rangers, but that there were “baby steps” along the way that led to it. He noted that the Blackhawks were in the process of rebuilding, but he still had the decision to leave his comfort zone.
There was a moment when Kane expressed his disappointment that a trade to the Rangers might not materialize: when New York traded Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues on February 9 to fill their need on the right wing.
At the time, Kane said he “could not have been happier” to see the move materialize, knowing that the Rangers had been engaged in talks to acquire him from Chicago.
“I think the comments are a little exaggerated sometimes,” Kane said Thursday. “I wasn’t too angry about the situation when they made the move for Tarasenko. It didn’t seem like it was out of the question.” [for a trade] To remain an option.
Then Ken smiled.
“Now, obviously, I’m very happy that they made this step,” he said.
Tarasenko will play on a line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, while Kane will line up with center Vincent Troschek and longtime friend – left winger Artemy Panarin, who skated with Kane in Chicago from 2015 to 2017.
“This is the first time I’ve seen him in a long time,” said Ken. “He’s a fun guy. I definitely missed that the last six years. We picked up right where we left off. I hope it’s the same on the ice.”
“It may not be as smooth as everyone thinks it is. There may be some bumps in the road, but hopefully in time we can figure it out.”
Gallant said having Banarine on the roster will help elevate Kane’s comfort level as a guard.
“It’s all new to him. He’s been a Chicago Blackhawk his whole career,” Gallant said. “I am sure he will be very nervous when he plays with his new teammates. Fortunately, [Panarin] here to help him. It’s great to have people you know a little bit here.”
Kane said he was looking forward to rekindling that chemistry and that Panarin was one of the reasons he waived the Rangers’ immobility clause.
While reuniting with an old Blackhawks teammate, Kane has to say goodbye to someone else in Captain Jonathan Toews. Both made their debuts in 2007-08 and led Chicago to a dynasty era. Toews walked away from the Blackhawks on February 20 due to prolonged COVID-19 symptoms and chronic immune response syndrome.
“We’ve played together for many years,” Kane said. “It wouldn’t feel as natural as it used to. It was a great run. It would be weird not to be around him.”
Kane is part of the MSG family now; New York Knicks star Jalen Bronson wore a Kane jersey at Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. Bronson lived outside of Chicago during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory and said Kane was “just a legend” to him.
Kane said he bumped into Bronson at the Rangers’ training facility, which they share with the Knicks, on Wednesday. Kane also FaceTimed Brunson’s dad and said he would love to attend a Knicks game to support him.
“The energy in the city and throughout the organization is very high right now,” Kane said. “It’s great to be a part of that.”
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