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Article updated: 2/12/2013 11:55 PM

Kane off to best career start without his trademark

By Tim Sassone

It was his trademark, every bit as much as the No. 88 jersey he wears on his back.

You rarely saw a picture of Patrick Kane without him chewing on his mouth guard.

The Blackhawks even gave away Kane mouth guards last season as a promotion, just as they had a mouth guard dangling from the mouth of the Kane bobblehead doll they once gave to fans.

But it's gone now.

Kane stopped wearing the mouth piece when he went to play in Switzerland and has kept it out upon his return to the NHL. Kane is off to such a great start that he said he might not put one in his mouth all season.

"It was a tough decision, but it seems to be working out so let's keep it that way for a while," Kane said Tuesday. "For now I haven't been wearing it, but it could come back."

Kane doesn't believe it has anything to do with him being off to the best start of his career.

"Maybe I'm not thinking about it so much," he said. "Was I thinking about chewing on it instead of focusing on the game? I don't know."

Kane played for HC Biel during the lockout, and when he arrived in Switzerland realized he didn't have a mouth guard.

"They didn't have one for me when I got to Switzerland," Kane said. "I could have gone to the dentist and got one, but I forgot all about it. When I came back here, they had some for me to try, but it just kind of felt weird in my mouth."

Teammate Jonathan Toews has noticed something is different about his former linemate.

"I was kind of wondering about that," Toews said. "I don't know what changed his mind, but I did notice it though. That was part of his identity that he's letting go of, so I don't know what's going on there. He should probably just put it in his mouth and keep it there."

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