NEW YORK – On Thursday morning, the moment finally happened.
Emerging from the dark tunnel of Madison Square Garden, a 16-year member of the Blackhawks’ organization made his way out onto the ice wearing the jersey of another team.
While it was a red sweater with red pants, similar to what he might wear in Chicago, it was so, so different for Patrick Kane.
“It’s different, right?” said the now Rangers forward at a news conference following his first skate with the team. “I’ll have to get used to it.”
That process will have to happen quickly since Kane will make his debut with New York at his new home of Madison Square Garden on Thursday when the Rangers host the Senators. It comes two days after a three-team deal ended his long tenure with the Blackhawks that included nine All-Star appearances, three Stanley Cup titles, and the 2016 NHL MVP.
“Definitely a little nervous. It’s probably more nervous than I’ve been for a regular season game in a long time,” said Kane when asked how he’ll feel tonight taking the ice for the Rangers.
Many were curious how Kane felt about the days leading up to the trade when he was away from the team, and then when it finally happened around 7 p.m. central time on Tuesday. The forward tried to describe the process on Thursday as he thought about and then eventually waived his no-trade clause.
“You got back-and-forth in your head about it a bunch of times about what’s right. But I just feel like this is such an amazing opportunity with what they have going on here in New York,” said Kane. “It wasn’t the easiest decision, but I’m really excited to be here with this team with the amount of skill and good players that they have here, it’s just another chance to make it run.
“I felt like it would be a good experience and get out of the comfort zone a little bit and be able to play for a different franchise, a different team, and, like I said, obviously I have a great team here. So you’re coming into a good situation.”
Right now the Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division with 79 points, featuring a loaded roster that includes both veteran and young talent. Getting used to them will be an adjustment, just as it will be not taking the ice with his teammate Jonathan Toews.
The captain and the forward were the faces of the Blackhawks from when they debuted in 2007 and helped the team to their greatest on-ice era in franchise history in the late 2000s and 2010s.
“It’s weird,” said Kane of not playing with Toews. “We’ve been together for so many years. I know he really hasn’t been around the team lately, but it probably won’t feel as normal as it usually does. We’ve had 16 years together, it was a great run.
“So it’s going to be weird not being around him.”
This is just another thing that’s going to be different for Kane as a new chapter of his career begins.