Chicago Blackhawks' Kane looks to make history
One more game.
One more with a goal or an assist and no other Blackhawks player in the history of the franchise will own a longer point streak than Patrick Kane.
The incredible run can reach 22 games -- one more than the legendary Bobby Hull -- on Sunday when the Hawks take on the Winnipeg Jets in front of a jam-packed United Center crowd.
Hull began his streak on Dec. 5, 1971 -- almost exactly 44 years to the day that Kane might just pass the Golden Jet.
Reached by phone Friday, Hull told the Daily Herald he's "very proud" to be able to watch Kane make a run at this record, one Hull wasn't even aware of until someone told him about it a week or two ago.
"I had no idea that I had gone 21 games at one time and scored 23 goals and (had) 12 assists," said Hull, who finished that season (his last one with the Hawks) with 50 goals and 43 assists. "If anyone is going to do it, I'm happy that Patrick is getting the job done.
"He's a favorite of everyone's, a favorite of any hockey fan -- not just Blackhawks fans. The way he skates and handles the biscuit, there's no one that I know that can do it any better.
"I'm very proud that I'm here to be a part of it. And I hope he goes on to break Gretzky's record and scores from here to the end of the season."
The Wayne Gretzky record Hull is referring to is a 51-game streak that the Great One put together during the 1983-84 season. But before we dive into whether that is possible, we should take a moment to marvel at what Kane is accomplishing in an era that looks nothing like the NHL Gretzky played in.
Since 1995, only Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010) and Dany Heatley (22 games in 2005) have put together single-season point streaks of 21-plus games.
Kane is seven games from breaking into the top 10 streaks in NHL history, a who's who of hockey that includes Gretzky (four times), Mario Lemieux (twice), Guy Lefleur, Steve Yzerman, Mats Sundin and Paul Coffey.
And every one of those streaks all came 23-39 seasons ago.
After the Hawks lost to Minnesota at the United Center last week, Kane told the media that breaking the American-born record of 18 games previously held by Eddie Olcyzk and Phil Kessel was good enough for him.
Saturday after practice, though? Kane was singing a different tune.
"We had a season-ticket holder party last night and I saw Bobby Hull there and he was very supportive and he seems like he wants me to break the record," Kane said. "Hearing that support and knowing what's in front of you, it's pretty exciting. … (Later Saturday) when I'm home relaxing I'll try not to think about it and just get ready for a game like I usually will."
Two times, Denis Savard nearly broke Hull's record. The first time came during the 1981-82 season when Savard went on a 18-game tear; the other was a 19-gamer in 1985-86.
So was Savard aware that he was on the cusp of history, especially during the 19-game streak? You better believe it.
"Of course I was. There's no question about it," Savard said. "I'll tell you why I was -- on game No. 20, they gave me an assist in Winnipeg. I never touched the puck.
"In those days you had to go to the PR director and tell him, 'I didn't touched the puck. You've got to call the NHL and (have them) take it off. There's a record here and it's not fair for me to take that assist.' "
Had Savard not taken that step, he would be the Hawks' record holder with a 28-game streak because he went on another eight-gamer after that loss in Winnipeg.
Like former Hawks star Jeremy Roenick, coach Joel Quenneville and many others, Savard absolutely marvels that Kane has been able to tie a 44-year-old team record in this day and age. Remember, when Savard was rolling, the final scores of games often looked like this:
• Oilers 12, Black Hawks 9
• Blues 9, Black Hawks 6
• Black Hawks 9, Red Wings 4
During Kane's streak, the Hawks have averaged 2.9 goals a game with a high of 5 twice. During the 1985-86 season, the Hawks averaged 4.4 goals per game.
"I don't know how he does it night after night," Savard said. "The streak he's on with the way the game is today, as far as teams defending and how goaltenders are, I don't know. I mean it's very difficult to do what he's done so far. And hopefully there's more games in a row here."
Said Roenick to NHL.com: "What (Kane is) doing is harder than scoring 100 points in a season."
Saturday, Kane gave "all the credit" for this run to his linemates: Russians Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Much has been made of the chemistry that Panarin and Kane have had, but Kane wants everyone to know how huge Anisimov has been.
"He's the guy that kind of does all the dirty work to make us successful," Kane said. "He probably deserves more credit than anyone on the line."
If Kane can reach 25, 30 … even 35 games, it would have to be considered one of the most remarkable achievements in sports over the past 20 years.
"I don't know if we're going to see (this) again," Savard said.
So can anyone break Gretzky's mark? Or even seriously approach it? I've posed this question to many people -- Quenneville, Kane, Savard, Hull, Troy Murray and others -- and received a variety of great answers.
Quenneville's was classic as his eyes got big and he went "oof."
Savard didn't think it was likely.
Hull? He was the one who said, hey, you never know.
"It might be tough, but anything's possible there," he said. "That's what records are made for -- to be broken. There are a lot of records that they didn't think would be broken -- the Babe Ruth (home run) record; (Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds) broke that record.
"Patrick is just the guy that can get it done. I don't think pressure bothers him. It seems that adversity comes and he handles it wonderfully."
Hull and Savard, two of the best Blackhawks of all time, sit with each other in a United Center box for almost every home game. Savard said he can tell that Hull is genuinely happy for Kane.
"It's his time," Savard said. "Obviously Bobby's name comes up and it's a good story for him and for all of us. It's fun. It's fun for our fans.
"You go to a game like (Sunday's), people will be excited to see if he can continue the streak. And the longer this thing goes, the more fun it's going to be not only for our fans but for the fans around the league."
• Follow John's Hawks reports on Twitter @johndietzdh.
Scouting reportBlackhawks (13-9-4) vs. Winnipeg Jets (13-12-2) at United Center, 4 p.m.
Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: It's a big day for Patrick Kane as he attempts to break Bobby Hull's team-record points streak. If he extends his streak to 22, Kane will not only pass the Golden Jet but will also be just six games shy of cracking the top 10 point streaks in NHL history. … This is a huge game for both teams as Winnipeg sits just 2 points behind the Hawks in the Central. Winnipeg, which suffered through a 4-9-1 November, beat Toronto 6-1 on Wednesday and Washington 2-1 in OT on Saturday. … Corey Crawford starts in net for the Hawks.
Next: Nashville at United Center, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
-- John Dietz