The easy part is over for Patrick Kane. Now comes trying to win a medal as a major underdog.
Kane was selected for the U.S. Olympic Men’s hockey team on Friday and called it, “a dream come true for him and his family.” He’ll be the youngest player on a very youthful team.
“Obviously we’re a young team,” Kane said on a conference call after the announcement. “Only three of us have had Olympic experiences before, but at the same time you look at the roster and we’re a big team, pretty skilled, and really fast I think.”
Kane agreed that it was a bit of the “changing of the guard” in terms of who was selected. There’s no Mike Modano, Bill Guerin, or Keith Tkachuk in this Olympics. The average age of the team is just over 26 years old.
“All the best players in the league are young, anyway. It’s becoming a young man’s league,” Kane said.
Kane is hoping for some previous Olympic magic to rub off on this year’s squad. He knows the history of the U.S. in these games and realizes what it would mean to bring back gold.
“I think it’s pretty cool, it’s the 30th anniversary of the ’80 team and the 50th anniversary of the ’60 team that won, so hopefully its one of those years we can put everything together and bring back hockey to the U.S,” he said. “People are probably looking at us as underdogs, but at the same time if you put together the right chemistry and things like that [come together], it could help us go a long way. Especially in a tournament like this.”
Kane is referring to a reduction in games compared to previous Olympics. It provides for more of an elimination-style tournament, which gives more credence to a cliché he used: “Anything can happen on a given night.”
Kane said he was surprised and disappointed that teammate Dustin Byfuglien didn’t make the team, but said he may still have a chance of going if an injury occurs between now and the beginning of the games.
“That’s what they told him,” Kane explained. “He’s one of those guys that if someone gets hurt he’ll probably be filled in. Hopefully he comes one way or another; it would be awesome.”
As for facing Canadian teammates Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Jonathan Toews on Feb. 21 when Canada meets the U.S., Kane said it will be “different but fun.” He may have to come up with a new move or two.
“I sit next to ‘Dunc’ [Duncan Keith] on the plane and he’s pretty funny about it. He says he knows all my moves and stuff like that. We’ll see when it comes. It should be fun.”
Kane was asked which would be bigger: winning gold at the Olympics as an underdog or a Stanley Cup with the Hawks?
“It would be nice to have both,” Kane declared. “First comes first. We’re with the Blackhawks right now and that’s the team we’re worried about right now, but once the Olympics comes around, you want to win that too. I’ll tell you one thing, it could be a hell of a year if you could come home with both.”
It absolutely would.