the nhl could learn a couple things

Raising Kane (from ESPN.com in 2009)

CHICAGO – He’s one of the cornerstones of this city’s hockey renaissance. Yet he looks like he’s 12. He plays like there’s nothing he can’t do on the ice. Yet he’s not even 6 feet tall. He can’t go anywhere without being asked for an autograph. Yet he carries himself with the humility of a city sanitation worker.

At 20 years old, Patrick Kane is one of the NHL’s brightest stars. His hat trick in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals not only helped the Blackhawks advance, but it brought with it the national sports spotlight. And now, in the Western Conference finals against Detroit, everyone is expecting Patrick Kane to do great things.

And yet, at the end of the day, he’s so much more than a hockey player, so much more than No. 88, the future of the Blackhawks. Ask him about the roles that matter most in his life and Kane surely will tell you son, friend and big brother. It’s the reason his family was right there with him at the NHL draft, at his first NHL game and at last year’s NHL awards.

So in the era of social networking, in the era of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, here are 20 things you might not know about the Blackhawks’ forward, one for each of Kane’s 20 years. They come courtesy of Kane himself, as well as the people who have been there from the beginning: his mother, Donna; father, Pat; and three sisters: Erica (20), Jessica (18) and Jacqueline (15).

1. He’s exceptionally competitive.

He wanted to have this handwriting contest one day,” Erica said. “So we sit down, write our name five times, and all of the sudden he stands up and goes, ‘All right, I win. I’m the best.’ And he walks away.

2. One of his closest friends is his 83-year-old grandfather.

They are very, very close,” Donna Kane said. “They will sit outside and play cards, they’ll sit on the deck and tell stories and they’ll watch baseball and eat cheeseburgers together. I remember one time I went over there and Pat was napping on the couch and Grandpa was sleeping on the chair.

3. After his hat trick against Vancouver, he had 69 text messages waiting for him. One was from Jacqueline, and the two began going back and forth creating a Patrick Kane rap song.

It was pretty silly,” Jacqueline said. “Something like, 'Oh Patrick, you just scored a hat trick. That Kane, he’s so insane.

4. Growing up he was forced to play with dolls because it was the only way he could get his sisters to play sports.

I’d be the dad and have to play house or whatever,” he said. “It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I had to do it.”

5. After doing his doll duty, Patrick would team up with Jacqueline for a 2-on-2 soccer battle against Erica and Jessica in the basement.

They were a little more girlie girl so we’d dominate,” Jacqueline said. “I remember we’d do the introductions, we’d flicker the lights on and off. We kept statistics on the wall. We won more than we lost. Sometimes my sisters quit.”

6. And when they did, Pat would make them pay.

They’d be running up the stairs and I’d just whip the ball at their backs,” Kane said. “They always knew that if they didn’t want to play anymore that was fine. But the ball would soon be coming at them. Ahh, good memories.”

7. Every time she visits in Chicago, Donna Kane still does her son’s laundry. And cleans his house.

I’ll do his wash and rip the sheets off the bed,” Donna said. “His interest is hockey. He wants to play hockey. The other stuff will have its time and moment. So for now, I don’t mind helping him out.”

8. In Kane’s new home, he currently has six pieces of furniture: two beds, three televisions and a sectional.

Typical college kid,” Donna said.

9. Kane has specific rules for when his sisters come to visit.

It’s hilarious,” Erica said. “We have to obey his rules. Try to be quiet, if you have to go to the bathroom, go downstairs. Don’t wake him up when he’s sleeping. Stuff like that.

10. When the season is over, Kane will head home to Buffalo, where he stays with his parents and sleeps in the same bed, in the same bedroom, where he grew up.

No matter what anyone else says, if you ask him he’ll tell you Buffalo is still his home,” Donna said.

11. Once there, he’ll cruise around town with Jacqueline before heading home and working on his moves.

We’ll just drive around the side streets and blast music, maybe go to McDonald’s,” Jacqueline said. “And then we’ll go home and have a dance-off.”

12. The majority of his summer, though, will be spent in his parent’s backyard playing a game called “Keep it Up.”

You take those big bouncy balls, like the ones at K-Mart, and the idea is to hit the ball back and forth and keep it up as long as possible,” Erica said. “We play for hours on end. And some of the saves people make, you laugh so hard. You look like an idiot.”

13. When he’s away from Buffalo, Pat calls home almost every night.

14. He never went to a prom.

There was always a hockey game or a hockey tournament or something going on,” Donna said. “I don’t even think he ever went to a school dance.”

15. He’s very protective when it comes to his sisters, and he regularly gives them advice about dating.

He tells us who’s bad, who’s good and who to stay away from,” Jessica said. “He’s a really good listener.”

16. Despite his superstar status, he still acts like a kid.

My dad has these motorized scooters, and Pat will come home in the summer and just race these things up and down the street,” Erica said. “He’s just such a kid.

17. He loves a good practical joke.
“He did this thing not long ago where he crawled into the bedroom at his house where my dad was watching television and then just jumped up and scared my dad to death,” Jacqueline said.

18. He’s learning to like shopping.

I remember a while back he wanted to buy something for each of us and my mom was like, 'Just give the girls money.’ We didn’t think he could handle shopping. But he went to Aldo and picked us all up a couple pairs of awesome shoes.”

19. Less than an hour after his family dropped him off in Detroit to play junior hockey and chase his NHL dreams, Pat tried to quit.

I told him, 'Pat, we’re not quitters. We’ve never been quitters. We made a commitment to a team and an organization and a family, and we can’t just walk away without trying it.’ It was a tough couple of months,” Donna said, “but we got through it.”

20. Despite leaving home at 14, he’s learned that family is everything.

My dad was asking me the other day if it would have been nice to have a younger brother, someone I could teach a few things and could also make a big splash,” Kane said. “But honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I would never change a thing. I wouldn’t be here without them.

The 2015-2016 Philadelphia Flyers season has ended. But unlike previous seasons, I don’t feel any bitterness about it at all. In fact, despite being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, I actually feel very positive about this season. Here’s a breakdown of why:

REGULAR SEASON
-The Rebuild. This season was never meant to be a winning season. It looked, in the beginning, like the only thing the Flyers could possibly win was the draft lottery (and let’s be completely honest here- that feeling lasted through the majority of the season).

-The Rookie Head Coach. The first couple of months in Dave Hakstol’s first year in the NHL were rough, to put it nicely. But everything comes with a learning curve, and eventually the team caught on to his system and started to flourish under his direction. Down the stretch, the Flyers started looking more and more like a team that knew what they were doing. They had a plan, they played good hockey, and they found a way to make it to the playoffs after embarrassing themselves last year. While he won’t win the award, I have no doubt in my mind that Hak should at least be nominated for the Coach of the Year.

-The Injuries. Every NHL season, unfortunately, has a lot of injuries. But this year the injury bug seemed to hit the Flyers especially hard. The 2015-2016 regular season saw injuries to 15 different Flyers. Most notably, Sean Couturier (concussion), Jake Voracek (foot), Steve Mason (lower body), Michal Neuverth (knee), and Michael Del Zotto (wrist). While they in no way had the most injuries in the season, they did have to fight a decent amount of the year without some of their key players. If the Flyers can reduce the amount of games they lose to injuries next year, the road will be a lot easier to travel.

-Ron Hextall Magic. The Flyers made very few moves this season, but the few moves they did make are further proof that Ron Hextall has a plan for the future, and is more than capable of making it happen. Going back to the end of last season, the Flyers have completed just five trades. Let’s break them down.

1. June 26th, 2015. The Flyers traded their 1st round (29th) and 3rd round (61st) picks to move up 5 spots in the first round, in order to draft forward Travis Konecny (more on him later). The best part about this is that neither one of those picks originally belonged to the Flyers. Pick number 29 originally belonged to the Tampa Bay Lightning (Braydon Coburn), and pick number 61 originally belonged to the Chicago Blackhawks (Kimmo Timonen).

2. June 27th, 2015. In a move that completely blew my mind, Ron Hextall traded Nicklas Grossmann and Chris Pronger’s contract (A CONTRACT!!!!) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Sam Gagner and either a 2016 or 2017 4th round pick. Both the Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers, Gagner’s former teams, had given up on him. But where other teams saw a wasted first round draft pick, Ron Hextall saw potential. Although his stats don’t reflect it, Sam Gagner became a force to be reckoned with on the Flyers’ second line, along with Sean Couturier and (most often) Brayden Schenn, and provided a new depth in scoring.

3. June 27th, 2015. The Flyers traded their 2015 4th round (99th) pick to the Los Angeles Kings for their 2015 4th round (104th) and 2016 6th round picks. This is, without a doubt, the least exciting of the Flyers trades this year. But they did gain an additional draft pick, and since guys like Jamie Benn have slipped to later rounds in previous drafts, no pick should ever be counted out. And with the 104th overall pick, the Flyers selected center Mikhail Vorobyov. We’ll see what he does in the future.

4. June 29th, 2015. The Flyers traded Zac Rinaldo to the Boston Bruins for their 2017 3rd round draft pick. The Flyers have to wait another year in order to cash in on the return from this trade, but in this case, what was subtracted from the team meant a whole heck of a lot more than what was added. In moves that surprised a grand total of zero Flyers fans, Zac Rinaldo found himself suspended in both the NHL and the AHL at the same time. Rinaldo is no rookie to suspensions, but this was disturbingly impressive even for him. After being ejected and suspended 5 games for an illegal check to the head against a Tampa Bay Lighting forward on March 1st, he was demoted to the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. Three days later, Rinaldo added an AHL suspension to go along with his NHL suspension for another dirty hit. And to think, the Bruins gave up a third round draft pick for this guy.

5. January 6th, 2016. As a birthday present to me, the Flyers finally traded Vincent Lecavalier along with Luke Schenn to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jordan Weal and their 2016 3rd round pick. While he has had a very respectable career, Vinny Lecavalier has not been the player he was when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in quite some time. And Luke Schenn, while an incredible person off the ice, was one of the players dragging the Flyers defense down and clogging the road for some of the prospects to make their way up to the NHL level. They both rediscovered success with the Kings for the rest of the season, and I’m happy for them for that. But I’m even happier that neither of them are on the Flyers roster anymore.

So let’s sum it all up. Ron Hextall may have only made five trades since the end of the 2014-2015 season, but so far 4 of them have already worked out well for the Flyers. And the 5th is still a toss-up. An 80% success rate is nothing to be upset about at all.

-The Goalie Tandem. Gone are the days where goaltending is the biggest fear in the city of Philadelphia. Steve Mason has proven himself time and time again to the Philly critics, and is without a doubt the best starting goaltender the organization has had in a very long time. And even when Mason was injured or not playing well, the Flyers still had a reliable backup in Michal Neuverth. This is by far the best tandem that the Flyers have had in a very long time. Possibly ever.

-Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. These two were arguably the most improved players on this year’s roster, compared to the 2014-2015 season. Couturier put up career numbers in assists (28), and points (39) despite missing almost 20 games due to injuries. And Schenn put up career numbers in goals (26), assists (33), and points (59). The best part is that Couturier is signed in Philly through the 2021-2022 season, and Schenn most definitely earned himself a new contract that Hextall will be looking to sign this off season.

-The Calder Candidate. I’ve had a lot to say this season about rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere. A lot of people have, and for a very good reason. He’s set multiple Flyers records, as well as NHL records. The most notable record he now owns is the NHL rookie defenseman point streak, which came through the month of February when everyone on the team except The Ghost Bear and Steve Mason had already started planning their early off-season vacations. Thanks to the two of them, the Flyers were able to remain in contention through their rough patch. The only thing that could be disappointing about his season is if he isn’t nominated for the Calder. But have no fear, Flyers fans. I have no doubt that he will be recognized.

-The Playoff Push. There was, without a doubt, no team in the entire NHL better in the last two months of the regular season than the Philadelphia Flyers. For a team that should have been (and kinda was) counted out of all playoff talk around the All-Star Game, the Flyers rallied to clinch a playoff berth in the 81st game of the season. This never-say-die mentality is something that every Flyers fan should be proud of.

PLAYOFFS
-Pure Exhaustion. The Flyers have been playing playoff-caliber games for months now. Most teams would only find themselves this exhausted by the time they reach the conference finals, not the first round. Add on to that the emotional stress of losing Ed Snider the day after the regular season ended, and it’s easy to see why this Flyers team looked so beaten down in the first 3 games of the series. If the Flyers can find a way to have a better regular season next year and can clinch a playoff berth sooner than the 81st game of the season, hopefully they won’t be as exhausted as they were this series.

-The Washington Capitals. I won’t lie, I had the Flyers beating the Capitals in this first round in seven games. I was optimistic. But I’m also not ignorant to reality. The Flyers ran head first into the league’s best team during the regular season. And they also rand head first into Braden Holtby, who without a doubt will be this year’s Vezina Trophy winner. The Capitals were the first team to clinch their playoff berth, doing so a full 25 days before the Flyers, the last team to clinch a playoff spot. The odds were stacked against them, and they played admirably in the face of adversity.

-The Refs. It’s hard enough to play against another team in the playoffs. But it’s even harder when you have to play against the officiating as well. But the Flyers found a way to win 2 games when the league and the refs clearly wanted them to get swept. That’s all I’m going to say on this matter.

-The Injuries. Similar to the regular season, the Flyers suffered a couple of serious injuries that shaped the playoff run. The most terrifying was Scott Laughton being taken off the ice on a spine board in game 5, but the most impactful was the shoulder injury to Sean Couturier. The team lost their best defensive forward in game 1 of the series, which is never something you want to happen when facing Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs. But they found a way to work around it, and found a way to win 2 games despite everything going against them.

-A Clean Series. Many people (especially Caps fans) have their opinion on the way that the Flyers played this series. But Pierre Edouard Bellemare deservingly received a 1-game suspension for his hit on Dimitry Orlov during game 3, and other than that one hit, the Flyers played a clean series against a bitter rival intent on trying to drag them down to their level. These aren’t the Flyers of the past. These aren’t the “Broad Street Bullies” anymore.

THE FUTURE
I talked about Shayne Gostisbehere having such a huge impact on the Flyers this season, but it’s important to remember that out of all the Flyers prospects, he has never shown the most promise. This isn’t a dig on him at all, just look at what he’s accomplished this season. But rather, it’s a promise of what’s to come in the next few years in the City of Brotherly Love.

-Ivan Provorov. There is no doubt he is going to be challenging for an opening day roster spot come this fall. He scored 73 points in 62 games and finished with a +64 rating this year for the Brandon Wheat Kings, the most of all defensemen in the WHL. He was named the WHL’s top Eastern Conference defenseman, and was the only unanimous selection to the Eastern Conference’s first all-star team.

-Travis Konecny. Like Provorov, there is no doubt he is going to be challenging for an opening day roster spot come fall. He finished the season with 101 points (30 goals and 71 assists) in 60 games between Ottawa and Sarnia. His stature and talent is reminiscent of players like Danny Briere and Brendan Gallagher, which any Flyers fan should be excited for. He was also named to Canada’s 2016 World Junior Championship team.

-Travis Sanheim. He made is pro debut with the Phantoms at the end of the AHL season, but spent the majority of the year as an alternate captain for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL. He missed time early on in the season for a shoulder injury, but scored 15 goals and had 53 assists for 69 points in 52 games, and finished with a +15 rating. He was also named wit Canada’s 2016 World Junior Championship team.

-Anthony Stolarz. Stolie the Goalie finished the season 21-18-7 with a save percentage of 0.916. His most impressive game was a Phantoms franchise-record 51-save shoot out win over Syracuse on March 2. He was also named to the AHL’s 2016 All-Star game.

-Honorable Mentions: Sam Morin played his first season of professional hockey with the Phantoms, and had 4 goals and 15 assists in all 76 games. He led the team with 118 penalty minutes. Taylor Leier made his NHL debut with the Flyers on November 14th against the Carolina Hurricanes, and played 6 games with the team before returning to the AHL. He was the Phantoms’ second-leading scorer with 20 goals and 29 assists in 71 games. Danick Martel led the Phantoms with 22 goals in his first season of professional hockey. He added 15 assists in 67 games.

So, Flyers fans, the season may be over. But it certainly was not one to be upset about. As Gene Hart used to say, Good Night, and Good Hockey. Thank you, Flyers, for a wonderful season.