The Buffalo News polled sports staffers as to the top 10 male and female athletes from Western New York. Here’s No. 3 among men:
Name: Patrick Kane.
Hometown: South Buffalo.
High school: None. Relocated to Detroit at age 14 to live with former NHLer Pat Verbeek and play for Honeybaked AAA club in Midwest Elite League.
Update: Now 27, Kane has developed into one of the great players produced by American hockey as a three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time Olympian, winner of the 2008 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 2015-16 season marks his first under an eight-year, $84-million contract extension.
Career overview: The master of the puck-dangle, Kane has become one of the more entertaining players in the NHL and is clearly on the path to a Hall-of-Fame career. The Blackhawks had not won a Stanley Cup since 1961 and had been mostly failures since losing in the 1992 Cup final to Pittsburgh. Crowds in the United Center were often under 10,000 per game as the Hawks slipped far behind the Bulls, Cubs and White Sox in popularity among Chicago sports teams. But their ascendance has the Hawks as the talk of the town.
In 638 NHL games, Kane has 641 points (240 goals/401 assists). He’s close to a point-a-game player in the playoffs as well with 114 points (48-66) in 116 postseason contests.
Eerie premonition: On the 1994-95 hockey card of Ottawa’s Sylvain Turgeon, a 4-year-old Kane is clearly in the background in the front row at Memorial Auditorium sitting on the lap of his father. Kane is wearing a white Sabres home sweater of captain Pat LaFontaine in the photo.
Memorable moment I: After strong play with the U.S. National Development Team and the OHL’s London Knights, Kane became the first Western New Yorker ever chosen with the No. 1 overall choice when he was taken by the Hawks at the 2007 draft in Columbus. Chicago had finished fifth from the bottom and moved up to the draft lottery’s best stop.
Memorable moment II: On June 9, 2010, Kane secured the Blackhawks’ first Stanley Cup in 49 years with an overtime goal in Game Six of the Cup final at Philadelphia. Kane’s shot along the ice skidded under goaltender Michael Leighton and lodged inside the net but virtually no one in the arena other than the celebrating Kane knew it had crossed the goal line. At age 21, Kane became the youngest player in NHL history to score a Cup winner in overtime, eclipsing the mark set by a 22-year-old Bobby Orr with his iconic goal for Boston in 1970.
Memorable moment III: Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013 as the Blackhawks beat Boston to win their second Cup in four years. Kane had three goals in the final and the winner at 11:40 of the second overtime to beat Los Angeles in the clinching Game Five of the Western Conference final.
A third Cup: The Hawks won the Cup again in 2015 with a 2-0 win over Tampa Bay in Game Six at the United Center, their first home Cup clincher since 1938. Kane, who had been goal-less in the series, set up Duncan Keith’s second-period tally and scored the insurance goal himself on a perfect pass from Brad Richards.
“You saw my celebration. I had it all going,” a beaming Kane told The News after that game. “It was a little bit of relief and a lot of excitement.”
Coming home: Kane’s first trip here as an NHL player was on Dec. 15, 2007, and he received a standing ovation during a pregame ceremony honoring him as the NHL’s top draft choice the previous spring. He even scored the game’s first goal and the only goal for the Hawks in a 3-1 loss.
Trouble spots: On Aug. 9, 2009, Kane and his cousin, James, were arrested in Buffalo after allegedly punching a cab driver for not having change for a fare. The change was reportedly a dispute over 20 cents.Kane was charged with second-degree robbery, fourth-degree criminal mischief and theft of services. He pleaded not guilty, later apologized. Three weeks later, Kane and his cousin pleaded guilty to noncriminal disorderly conduct charges, and were both given conditional discharges.
Also, Kane was investigated last summer for an alleged sexual assault but charges were never filed.
Cup comes home: After the Stanley Cup championships in 2010 and 2013, Kane spent his day with the Cup in Buffalo. The visits were highlighted by trips to Niagara Falls, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, his former youth hockey rink in West Seneca and his beloved Imperial Pizza parlor in South Buffalo. During the 2010 visit, he was also stuck on a malfunctioning fire department ladder high above Delaware Avenue for nearly a half-hour.