CHICAGO – He’s had the opportunity to serve as his coach for just a little over a year now, and it remains a pure pleasure for Jeremy Colliton.
One could see that when the Blackhawks leader was asked on Tuesday how he believes that Patrick Kane continues to play at the highest level of his career as he gets older. In fact, he turns 31 as the team gets ready to host the Hurricanes at the United Center, and the forward shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
“It’s fun coaching him,” said Colliton of Kane, who enters another year of his life on yet another lengthy scoring streak.
The forward has tallied a goal in each of his last six games and has a point in the last nine, adding to his 11 scores and 15 assists on the season, making him the leading scorer on the team. During Kane’s recent run of offensive production, the Blackhawks have made up for a so-so start by going 6-2-2 in their last ten games and go for a fifth-straight win on his birthday evening.
So what does Kane attribute his continued success into his 30s?
“I think there’s things that you kinda realize about yourself as you get older; kinda what works and what doesn’t,” said Kane of being able to maintain and improve his performance. “It think whether it’s, you know, every time you’re on the ice, every day in general, you’re trying to pick up something just to better yourself. So I think that’s always something that I’ve kinda tried to do.
“I think sacrifices go a long way for me personally.”
Certainly, they’ve created a stretch of greatness which already existed during the former No. 1 draft picks early years when he helped the club to a trio of Stanley Cup titles. But since the start of the 2015-2016 season, Kane has managed to take his play and production to another level, beginning with that MVP season following the team’s last championship.
Kane won the award that year with 46 goals and 60 assists as his 106 points won him the Art Ross Trophy for league’s leading scorer. He had 89 points the following season and despite slipping to 76 (27 goals, 49 assists) in the 2017-2018 campaign, Kane followed it up with a stellar campaign last year in which he had a career-high 66 assists to go along with his 44 goals.
“I think he just always pushes himself and prides himself in being that guy. Hands down, one of the most skilled players that’s ever played the game,” said forward Andrew Shaw of Kane. “He stays in good shape, he eats well, he takes care of himself, and it gives him the ability to be out there every night and compete and perform as well.”
When asked why he believes Kane has been able to grow his game as he gets older, Colliton said there are a number of reasons, but pointed to one, in particular, that’s aided his success.
“One of the things that’s really impressive is that he skates so well,” said Colliton of Kane. “He conserves energy at times but when he opens it up, he’s as good as any skater, I feel like. It’s very impressive how he can win races and dart through holes and create space for himself, and obviously he thinks the game at such a high level.
“He can pull people to him and use the space that he creates.”
That skill along with others continues to improve with age as Kane enters his 31st year at the top of his game.