Positive sign: Kane joins Blackhawks at practice
The stands at Johnny's Icehouse West were filled with Blackhawks fans Wednesday morning, and they were treated to an unexpected show.
Injured star Patrick Kane joined practice and proceeded to zip around the ice in a white noncontact jersey. It was his first practice with the team since fracturing his collarbone Feb. 24 against the Florida Panthers.
It also was exactly five weeks into his estimated 12-week recovery plan following surgery Feb. 25 to insert screws into the bone.
He looked good, but there still is a long path ahead.
"No news, nothing's changed," coach Joel Quenneville said. "If there's anything (that) changes with him, we'll let (reporters) know, but nothing's changed. He's skating well, he's doing what he can do, but there's still a process that has to be followed there. He's a ways away."
Kane isn't taking slap shots or one-timers yet, but his wrist shot and skating are superb. He might still have seven weeks left without playing, so doing so much this early is a bit of a tease -- for him, the Blackhawks and fans.
"You never know what's going to happen, but they make those timetables because it's a certain type of injury," Kane said. "I think it's frustrating, but it is what it is. Like I said before and like I've been saying all along to everyone I've been talking to.
"It's something you've got to stay patient with and make sure you're not really rushing an injury like this, because it doesn't make any sense to do that. You just put yourself back at square one."
The thought of returning sooner, however, does enter his mind. It's hard to ignore when he's already able to do many things without pain.
"It's one of those things you wish you could be out there (Thursday) with the guys and start playing right away, but it's not realistic, it's not possible," Kane said. "You'll drive yourself crazy if you start thinking of certain dates when you can come back.
"I think the only thing I can really control is trying to heal as fast as I can, trying to get myself in the best shape possible."
Kane wasn't the only player who practiced while recovering from an injury. Forward Joakim Nordstrom, out with an upper-body injury, also wore a white noncontact jersey. He won't play Thursday against Vancouver but is getting closer.
Injured forward Daniel Carcillo (upper body) didn't skate and remains day to day, while Patrick Sharp is expected to play despite taking Wednesday off.
Quenneville also revealed that rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who played only 18 games before his kneecap was fractured, might be out "for a bit" in Rockford. This time he's out with an upper-body injury.
The biggest storyline, however, was Kane. His presence not only pleased the fans but also lifted his teammates' spirits.
"He looked good," Brent Seabrook said. "He looked like he was ready. He was making good passes, shooting … it didn't look like he missed a beat.
"It's good for our group. He's a big part of this team and he has been for a long time. We're looking forward to getting him back whenever he's ready."
Blackhawks game dayVancouver Canucks at the United Center, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: Vancouver, 9-3-1 in its last 13 games, is in the midst of a four-game road trip against the Central Division's toughest foes. Thus far they've taken it to St. Louis (4-1) and Nashville (5-4 in a shootout). … In the victory over Nashville, Alexandre Burrows was given a game misconduct for a high hit on Paul Gaustad, and defenseman Kevin Bieksa was ejected for checking Viktor Stalberg in the head on the same play. Neither received further discipline despite Burrows being a repeat offender. … The Hawks, who have lost both meetings to the Canucks (one in overtime), haven't been swept by Vancouver since 2005-06. … Radim Vrbata is Vancouver's leading goal scorer with 31. He has 9 goals in the last 14 games. … The Canucks have won five straight on the road.
Next: Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, 6 p.m. Friday
-- John Dietz