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Q&A: Kane on future, trade deadline, Connor Bedard and more


In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle, Patrick Kane opened up about his potential future, what his conversations might be like with GM Kyle Davidson leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, whether Jonathan Toews' decision could influence his, his thoughts on Connor Bedard and much more.

You can listen to the interview on the Blackhawks Talk Podcast. Here is the full transcript from the Q&A, which has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity:

What was it like watching Lukas Reichel those last two games?

Yeah, he looks like a different player compared to last year. You can tell when a player's feeling confident. Some guys are saying he looks faster and I think it's just you play with that confidence, there's no hesitation. But yeah, I think obviously they did a good thing with him having him in Rockford last year and keeping him there for half the year this year. Seems like he's in a really good spot, so nice to see him play like that. He made some really nice plays and had a couple other chances that line too. They were pretty good, especially last game.

That confidence thing, we always talk about it in sports and I think it's clearly evident with him. Did you always have it? Or was there, if we point to say the last two games and his moment where he kind of found that confidence to play in this league? Cause I heard your rookie year, you didn't have the best preseason, so where was your confidence then and when did it click for you?

Well I think just growing up I always knew that I was good at hockey, right? And that was just what I loved to do. I loved to be on the ice and play the game. It was a little bit of an adjustment from junior to the NHL obviously, even in preseason because of just bigger guys, older guys, guys that have experience in the league.

And then you start doing things and they're, not necessarily not working, but they're working to a different way, right? Like, I would make moves in junior and I'd get around the guy and I'd have a chance to go in and shoot and score. I'd make that move in the NHL and all of a sudden the guy's staying with me and I had to do something different like pull up or hit a guy coming in late or try to find someone else after you create that little space of separation.

So I think it's just about realizing what works and sometimes it's in a different way and once you get that confidence, you keep building on it and then you develop other parts of your game, so it's always a nonstop trek of trying to get better and figuring the game out. It's kind of like golf. You're never going to be perfect at golf and you're always trying to get better. It's the same thing with this sport too, there's always something to get better at.

Teams need confidence as well, what was it like watching the last two games and four much-needed points?

Yeah, it was good. They played really well against Arizona. That was a pretty tight game, 1-0 with an empty-netter. And then last game, I think we definitely had some timely goals. I thought that Domi line was really good, and it seemed like even though the shots were pretty lopsided, it seemed like they were kind of shooting everything. I don't really remember too many, I mean, obviously Stalock made some great saves when he had to, I think they had Huberdeau at the end of the game had a good chance and he made a good save. But I think both games it seemed like they came in ready to compete and just found ways to win.

How are you feeling? You missed the last two games. How's the lower-body injury?

It's good. I probably shouldn't have played that game against Tampa. It just didn't feel right, and then you're on the ice and you're thinking about the injury instead of actually just playing the game, so I probably should've taken that one off.

The last two games, I think I probably could've played, it's just we knew we had these three days in between, so it's just better to be cautious with it and had some treatment coming in, so just trying to be smart with it right now. But hopefully I'll be back soon.

Elliotte Friedman speculated that it may be something that lingers and hypothetically a worst-case scenario is that you could be shut down, that's not what you're thinking?

I don't think so, no, I don't think that it's at that effect right now. I mean, I guess you never know what could happen but that's definitely not where we're at right now.

I know you saw Connor Bedard at BioSteel before training camp. The player you saw there and I assume you watched him at the World Juniors, what stood out to you? Did you see growth, even in a few months?

Well, he's coming down to this BioSteel camp with some of the best players in the league and I would say he was one of the guys that really stuck out. You never really know, those young kids, how they're going to do, especially coming in with a bunch of NHL players that have had success, a bunch of guys that have experience, have been in the league a long time and he seemed to me that he was very confident.

I think there was one play in camp, he had a 2-on-1 with McDavid and he looked off McDavid and took a shot. *Laughs* We were all kind of laughing on the bench. But yeah, I think the thing with him is he moves so well laterally. Everyone talks about his shot and his ability to shoot from different angles and off a different foot each time but man, the way he moves laterally is what gives him that space to be able to do that, so pretty impressive.

I think everyone's kind of wondering how is he going to do at the next level, how's he going to be. From what I saw, I think it's all right there, he's going to be special.

Wherever he lands, do you think he accelerates whatever rebuild that team is going through?

You would think so, right? That's kind of the hope of a top pick. And it's not like he's going to be a first overall pick that's going to have to wait a year or two, right? He's going to come right in and be a difference-maker right away, so yeah, I could see that for sure.

We know you watch a lot of hockey during your down time. Did you get to see much of Adam Fantilli, whether it's at Michigan or in the World Juniors, and Leo Carlsson, the presumed Top 3 that are going to be taken?

I've seen Fantilli a little bit. Haven't watched him at Michigan, I watched him a little bit at the World Juniors there and I met him before he was obviously with the Steel and came into the gym to work out a few times. Really humble, likeable kid. What he's doing in Michigan this year as a freshman is pretty impressive, cause when you're going into college, you could be playing against 24, 25-year-old men, so he's producing against guys like that as an 18-year-old true freshman, it's pretty impressive. 

I think both those guys, Bedard and Fantilli, they're going to have great careers. I don't know much about the Swedish kid or not much about that Russian kid either. I mean, I watched him a little bit at last year's World Juniors but not so much this year, so we'll see on those guys.

The lack of winning this season is something you've never had to deal with in your career. How are you handling the mental challenge of that?

Yeah, it's tough. I think we kind of, I don't want to say we knew we were going to be in this position, I think there was a little hope at the beginning of the year of the start we got off to. There's still a lot of season left. I think we could be a team that you saw last two games, kind of find ways to win, compete every night, bring some excitement. The crowd's been great, so that's fun to see too, so there's a lot to play for in that regard.

But yeah, it's a different year obviously, going into the last year of your contract and different variables about what's going to happen or where you're going to be the rest of your career, different things like that. You think about that stuff, especially when it gets into January here and got a couple months to the trade deadline, so we'll see how it all shakes out.

Is it tough to stay in the moment when everybody's asking you about the future?

It depends. I think every day's different. If it's a game day and you're getting ready for a game and you're on the ice playing, I think it's easy to stay in the moment. If it's a couple days off in between games and you see some different things here or there or someone sends you something, it's like right in front of you, it's hard not to think about it.

Here we are, it's a new year, we're less than two months away from the trade deadline. Have you and Pat Brisson sat down with Kyle yet?

I talk with Pat pretty much every week. I think we checked in with Kyle right before Christmas, but really nothing to report right now, just kind of initiating conversation and seeing where each other is at. I don't think there was much to report on those conversations yet, so keep talking with Pat and just have those conversations, see how things are going and probably check in with Kyle at some point soon, I'm sure of that.

Next time you check in with Kyle, what's the goal of those conversations?

Just to kind of hear from where each side is at. I think whether it's about my play now or just about the team, about things that I see with the team that could maybe help, and obviously about maybe what's coming up. I don't think we've got to that point yet but I'm sure we both know it's right around the corner here.

Do you talk to Toews a lot about the situation that you guys are in and the future?

Yeah, I wouldn't say a lot, but every now and then we'll check in with each other and kind of see where we're at. It's different, right? We're very fortunate and blessed to play with one team for 15, 16 years, whatever it's been. Not many guys do that. I know that it's a different situation here in Chicago and they kind of want to build up their prospect pool, and they've used that term rebuild. We'll kind of see where we fit into that or if not, so I'm sure that's what those discussions are all about.

Do you think Toews' decision will influence yours at all or your decision influence his?

I don't know about him. I think both of us will probably want to hear and see what the other one is doing and play off that a little bit and kind of see what that is when the time gets closer, but I don't think it will be like a determining factor or what one or the other does.

You've had some teammates get honored by the team in the last few years and Hossa, just this past season. When you watch Hossa and you see him go through that night, does any part of you go, 'I'm going to have that day some night at the United Center?'

Not really, I don't think so. I think maybe you think about who's next, who's the guy that's going to be in that situation next. It would be fun to see Duncs and hopefully all those guys get their numbers retired, they're obviously very deserving. I think sometimes you see that and you want to push it off as far as possible and make sure that you're playing as long as possible too and enjoying the time while you're playing.

I've seen Patty Boy at a handful of games this season. What's that like, seeing him in warmup, and once the puck drops, are you drifting over there every once in a while on a stoppage or something?

*Laughs* No, not really. It's fun to see him in warmups, for sure. He's getting a little bit more knowledgeable about the game and understands the goalie and we're working on his stickhandling a little bit. He watches me stickhandle in warmups, so he wants to learn how to stickhandle, so that's been pretty fun.

But it's just fun to see him there, to be honest with you. He puts you in a good mood pretty quick just seeing him, whether he's watching the guys on the ice or dancing to the music or just sitting there staring into space. It's just fun to see him.

The last time your contract was nearing an end, the decision was all about you. This time, you've got Amanda, you've got a family here, how does that feel?

She's great, too. She's like wherever you go, we're going too, so whatever you want to do, whatever makes you happy, and I think that's always cool to hear. It's not like I'm making the decision to go somewhere because they want to be in warm weather or they want to be somewhere different or they want to stay, it seems like it's up to me this decision, so that's obviously good to hear from her.

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