Kane, who spent the first 16 years of his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks before a trade to the New York Rangers last spring, is six months out from hip resurfacing surgery. The nine-time All-Star has met with a handful of teams over the past month, including his hometown Buffalo Sabres, the Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.
According to sources, Kane narrowed his focus and was down to two Eastern Conference teams in the final week of his decision. His deal with the Red Wings doe not include any bonuses, sources said.
Kane, 35, relocated his family to Toronto to rehab from the surgery over the past six months. Dr. Edward Su performed the hip resurfacing, and Ian MacIntyre oversaw Kane's rehab. In Toronto, Kane skated with former NHL player Cody Goloubef, who helped him with battle drills and fed him pucks.
According to several sources, Kane was asked on Zoom meetings by general managers and coaches why he wanted to put his body through the grueling rehab process, especially for a surgery with little proof of concept in the NHL, and his answer was repeatedly: "Because I love the game."
Kane showed humility through the process, sources said, constantly saying he knew he needed "to earn my spot," and saying he didn't expect to play on a team's first line or first power-play unit.
Kane has 1,237 points in 1,180 games during his NHL career, fourth-most among active players. His 451 career goals is the sixth-most among active players.
In the end, according to sources, Kane was impressed by Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde's X's and O's hockey acumen and vision for the team. The move also gives Kane a chance to reunite with one of his favorite Chicago linemates, Alex DeBrincat.
Throughout the rehab process, Kane was in touch with other athletes who had hip resurfacing, including Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who recently stepped away from the game, as well as tennis star Andy Murray.
The Red Wings are in a seven-year playoff drought, but they are starting to show signs of progress in the rebuild.