DENVER — The fresh-faced kid who exploded on the Chicago and national sports scenes as a teenager with a quick grin and jaw-dropping hockey skills is 25.
Patrick Kane, who began his Blackhawks career as a precocious 18-year-old, celebrated his 25th birthday doing what he does best and what he most wants to do: play hockey.
Kane and his teammates, however, were blown out by the Avalanche 5-1 on Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center as the winger set off on another segment of his life that he can only hope will rival the first one.
“It feels like it’s a landmark and you almost start another part of your life right now,” Kane said before the opener of a seven-game trip. “Twenty-five. And then you think of what can happen in the next 25 years of your life and what you can accomplish there.
“I’m just happy to be here. It’s exciting to be part of this team. I still feel like I’m pretty young. It seems like these years are going by faster and faster. It’s pretty crazy to say I’m 25.”
It’s pretty crazy to envision what Kane can do as he enters the prime of his career already having captured two Stanley Cups, Calder and Conn Smythe trophies as rookie of the year and postseason MVP, respectively, and an Olympic silver medal. After having accomplished so much in the first quarter-century of his life, what will the next quarter bring?
“Who knows? You always hope things can get better,” Kane said. “We have a great group here that you can accomplish some things with. You start looking ahead to what you can do in the future, but the best way to do that is to just kind of live in the now and live in the age of being 25 and enjoy it and have fun with the road ahead.”
It was rough beginning to the Hawks’ seven-game trip as first winger Bryan Bickell left the ice midway through the first period with an apparent left leg injury after skidding into the post.
A short time later, starting goalie Corey Crawford headed to the bench after yielding three goals on seven shots. Paul Stastny started things off the Avs and Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell followed with scores less than a minute apart to spark coach Joel Quenneville to yank Crawford. Antti Raanta, who was recalled Sunday to replace the injured Nikolai Khabibulin, made his NHL debut. He gave up goals to P.A. Parenteau and Cody McLeod in the second and third periods, respectively.
Kane picked up an assist on Brandon Saad’s third-period goal. It may not have been the way Kane wanted his 468th career game to begin, but the Buffalo, N.Y., native, has had the time of his life while growing up as an NHL player.
“It has been a great ride, just from coming in at 18 years old to where I am now,” he said. “A lot of good things have happened to this organization and to myself. It has been a fast seven years. … They have been a lot of fun.”