Five things Blackhawks fans are most likely to remember from a memorable day

Patrick Kane is mobbed by Detroit Red Wings teammates after he scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the United Center on Sunday. AP

Perhaps inspired by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, the fans at the United Center on Sunday showed Patrick Kane what it's like to be a rock star.

Of course, instead of asking for an encore song, they pleaded for Kane to keep coming back to center ice after his first-period tribute video played on the UC scoreboard.

He did not disappoint and each roar grew louder than the last.

It was truly hero's welcome, so fitting for someone who brought so much joy to the city for so long.

And who won the game? Kane, of course, scoring on a breakaway with 3:17 left in OT. He did one more mini-lap to once again acknowledge the fans.

“It's crazy thinking about someone who does so much to come back and get his flowers and obviously ending that way,” said teammate and good friend Alex DeBrincat, who sprung Kane for the game-winner with a perfect, off-balance pass. “I don't think you could have scripted it better.”

That was the ending to a truly memorable day, one that began with Kane addressing the media at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago at 10:45 a.m., and continued with Chris Chelios' stirring retirement ceremony.

It was impossible to write about everything Sunday, so let's put a bow on the events by giving you a peek at some of the juicy leftovers:

Reality check

Troy Murray has always marveled at Patrick Kane's ability to remember minute details from contests five, 10, even 15 years ago.

Kane proved that Sunday at the end of his morning presser when he recalled a game near the end of the 2007-08 season when the Hawks were facing the Red Wings.

Early in the first period while the Hawks were on a power play, Kane felt “about seven cross checks” on his back — all delivered by Chris Chelios. No penalty was called, so Kane decided to whack Chelios a couple of times.

Chelios kept hammering away and finally — on the “12th cross check” — a ref's whistle finally blew.

The Hawks got a two-man advantage, scored and went on to win 6-2.

“(Afterward) he was saying he wanted to give us a 5-on-3 so we could make the playoffs that year,” Kane said. “I don't think he was too honest about that one. And then of course my mom is mad about it after saying, 'He's the same age as me. What's he doing?'”

“But after that we became pretty close.”

The Hawks did not make the postseason that year, finishing 3 points behind Nashville.

Retire? Ha!

When Chris Chelios was traded to Detroit in March 1999, the Blackhawks had the audacity to tell him that he “should retire and work up in the offices.”

To which Chelios thought, “I might still have a little left.”

Try a lot left. Chelios played nine seasons for the Red Wings, helping them win two Stanley Cups, and even played 46 games for the Chicago Wolves and seven for the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009-10 until finally retiring at age 48.

Former Blackhawks great Chris Chelios celebrates with his family as his jersey is retired during a ceremony at the United Center on Sunday. AP
Chris Chelios and his mother Susan emerge after riding in a car onto the United Center ice Sunday. AP

Tough transition

Those first couple of seasons in Detroit were not easy on Chelios. The fans weren't so eager to accept a Chicagoan who had run roughshod over their beloved Red Wings during the 1990s.

Chicago turned on him as well, leaving the South Sider feeling like he had no true hometown.

“In all seriousness, I was thinking, 'I can't move back to Chicago. I can't go to Detroit. Where the heck am I gonna live?'” Chelios said. “I didn't think I was gonna play another eight years, so thank God (I did).

“As time went on, I won another Stanley Cup in Detroit and all was forgiven there. And years later the Hawks started winning their Cups, so all was forgotten there too and everybody is in a good mood.

“When Rocky (Wirtz) asked me to be an ambassador, it was easy decision to come back home. Especially after my dad had passed (in 2017), I wanted to get back and take care of my mom and take care of the family. I always wanted to come back to Chicago, and I thank my lucky stars it worked out the way it did.”

A Sharp tongue

Don't ever doubt Patrick Kane's ability to get a jab in on former teammates, especially known pranksters like Patrick Sharp.

Kane somehow pulled that off while answering a question about Connor Bedard's work ethic.

“Some people think it’s God-given talent or things like that,” Kane said. “(Sharp) would always make fun of me and say I was silver-spoon fed because I was the first overall pick and got all these opportunities.

“I would always tell him, ‘Hey, you should’ve worked harder when you were a kid. …

“He always liked that one. Quieted (him) down pretty quickly after that.”

Asked if he heard Kane's comments, Sharp said: “I did. True story, too.”

One more spin?

Patrick Kane is 35 years old and has played in 1,350 NHL games (including playoffs). So how much longer can he go? Maybe until he's 48 like Chris Chelios did?

“How long do these hip things hold up?” a smiling Kane asked.

Kane is just the third player to return from hip resurfacing, the other two being Ed Jovanovski in 2014 and Nicklas Backstrom in 2022. Backstrom has played in 47 games since the procedure but is likely to miss the rest of the season due to complications from the surgery.

Kane, meanwhile, looks like he's never left. He has 12 goals and 16 assists in 27 games and extended his point streak to eight games when he scored in overtime Sunday.

Maybe it's a pipe dream for fans, but I had to ask if he thought he could return to the Hawks one day, perhaps as they are set to make a playoff run in 2-3 years.

“I guess you never want to say never,” Kane said, “but it seems like they’re kind of content going in a different direction. It is what it is. Guess we’ll see how everything plays out.”

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