Pro hockey

Hawks benefit from Patrick pushing Patrick

2013-12-26T19:07:00Z 2013-12-27T02:35:12Z Hawks benefit from Patrick pushing PatrickBy George Castle Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 26, 2013 7:07 pm  • 

CHICAGO |The quicksilver Blackhawks forward with point-guard moves and stereoscopic vision keeps much of his motivation all in the family.

The family of Patricks, that is.

Year-round, Patrick Kane is influenced by his father, Patrick Kane, Sr. His foundation in the sport has been passed down by a supportive dad who stays just as close as he did in his kid’s youth hockey days.

But Kane’s offensive emergence into one of the elite scorers has been spurred by Patrick Sharp, now a wizened thirty-something veteran. Breaking into the Hawks at 18 in 2007, Kane watched Sharp score 36 goals and took mental notes to incorporate those skills into his own game.

Now the older Patrick is a spur to the younger one.

The happy result for the Hawks is that they are one-two in team scoring, pacing the first two lines — Kane with 22 goals on the second line, Sharp with 18 on the No. 1 line. Kane this season has amassed a pair of 12-game point streaks, one still active. Sharp has had 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

“One of the things about our relationship is it’s kind of a competitive relationship, but friendly at the same time,” said Kane. “If he gets one or two, you’re kind of thinking in the back of your mind you want to get a couple, too.

"It's good, though. It’s good competition within the team. When you have a player like that who pushes you and vice versa, you’re going to get better performances out of each of us."

Sharp’s eyes gleamed when asked to discuss how much Kane has been watching him during his entire career.

"Oh-oh," he laughed when told Kane considered him an on-ice role model.

"Everyone asks what you’ve see out of ‘Kaner’ over the years. Definitely his shot has improved from when he was 19-years-old to now. He can score on any goalie with his shot and that’s something he probably couldn’t do a couple of years ago.

"I like to shoot the puck whenever I touch it. I don’t have the vision he has, so I’m kind of forced to do that."

After scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 2010 and earning playoff MVP honors last spring, Kane has lifted his game to still another level. He’s on a pace for 40 goals. If he achieves that number, Kane will be the first Hawk to get to 40 since Tony Amonte tallied 43 in 1999-2000.

Hawks TV analyst Steve Konroyd even raises the possibility of Kane reaching 50.

Kane doesn’t shy away from talking about such gaudy numbers. But he doesn’t immerse himself in such calculations, either.

"It’s always fun about different numbers you can reach, different goals in the back of your mind every season. For me, personally, I don’t want to set any goals I want to reach because you don’t want to limit yourself. You want to reach your full potential.

"Whatever the numbers are at right now, you put in the back of your mind and try not to think about it too much, just think about the next game and produce night in and night out."

Kane is now drawing raves all over the NHL for not only his quickness and moves, but his instinctive play with the kind of extra vision to which Sharp referred.

Confidence through maturity and comfort through seniority also are boosting Kane, said Sharp.

“I’m sure it helps,” he said. “I know he’s very comfortable here in Chicago. He loves the organization. He loves the city. As you guys know, he loves the fans. After his goals, he likes to celebrate with the fans quite a bit.

“Personally speaking, being in the same organization a number of years, that helps out on the ice, off the ice, it makes you feel a part of the Blackhawks family.”

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