When the Blackhawks held their exit interviews in May, Patrick Kane confirmed that he had been dealing with a nagging issue that has actually affected him since before the Edmonton bubble. He declined to reveal specifics but hoped that he could "get it fixed" over the summer and "not have to worry about it next year."
The injury, however, is still lingering, although Kane downplayed the severity of it when training camp for the 2021-22 season opened on Thursday at Fifth Third Arena.
"Without getting into too much detail, it's something that happens as you play hockey and I've been playing hockey since I've been six, seven years old," Kane said. "It's just something that comes up. Throughout the summer you have your worries and whatnot. It's something that's not completely healed, but I'm optimistic with where I'm going and happy after today's skate with how I felt after that hard a skate."
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Blackhawks President/GM Stan Bowman didn't seem too worried about Kane's injury, either.
"It's something that a lot of players go through," Bowman said. "I would say that that's not uncommon for players to have nagging-type things that come and go. I don't know if it's in Patrick's case, but a lot of players don't want to have surgery. They want to try to wait until their career's over before they have a surgery because you don't know how that will go.
"Certainly that's unavoidable at times where you need a surgery, but that's not the case with Patrick. He's been working through it. Like he said, it's not something that he's that concerned about. It's just there.
"As an athlete, you want to always feel 100 percent all the time so you can be at your best, but if you were to talk to all of our players, it's rare when they feel 100 percent. There's usually something that's a little bit off and that's part of figuring out how you can get through it. But Patrick never complained about it at all. He's one of those guys that just wants to show up and play and not complain about anything."
Despite both Kane and the Blackhawks not expressing much concern, how his body holds up will certainly be something to monitor moving forward as the NHL returns to a normal 82-game schedule.
"Just trying to get better every day," Kane said after the first day of camp. "Camp's always pretty tough the first few days. A lot of skating, getting back into it. Build up your own game as well.
"I feel pretty good, to be honest with you. The biggest thing is I really haven't skated hard like that throughout the summer, so it's nice to skate like that and feel good while you're doing it. Pretty happy and optimistic with today."