Patrick Kane Chicago NHLBy Barry Hren

Quick name the greatest American born hockey players ever! Well, there’s Mike Modano and Chris Chelios…umm Jeremy Roenick, I think…and…er…yeah. That’s about as far as most casual hockey fans would get but soon young Chicago Blackhawks stud Patrick Kane will be on that list for every hockey fan from eight year olds in Cleveland to housewives in Nova Scotia. As I write this he turns 20 today and is currently tied for 4th in the NHL in points. Not bad for a kid who lists his favorite websites as NHL.com and “Facebook”.

He is babyfaced to say the least and not that far removed from his teenage photos where his short hair earned him the nickname “Buzz”. He recently mentioned that he would not shave until he went a game without scoring a point, though even after a 4 game streak it appeared that a bit of cream and a cat to lick his chin would be about all it would have taken for that. Growing up in South Buffalo, New York, he admired Buffalo hockey players such as Pat Lafontaine and Alex Mogilny. His father took him to Sabres games and as a six year old he even ended up pictured on a 1994 Pinnacle hockey card of Sylvain Turgeon, watching the game on his dad’s lap behind the glass.

Patrick KaneComing up through the teenage ranks, his skills were quickly noticed but his lack of size brought questions. Even today he is listed in some publications as 5’10″, 175, though an inch and 10 pounds off of that seem more realistic. His wicked speed and soft hands more than made up for any worry in stature. Drafted in the OHL as a 16 year old, he decided to wait and play 2 years with the US National under 18 team. Teammate Kevin Quick said in 2006 that Kane “had the best hands I have ever seen” and “everyone somehow gets points when playing with him”. The latter sentiment continues today, as Blackhawks teammates Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, and Martin Havlat are all averaging about a point a game themselves, with fellow young sensation Jonathan Toews not far behind. After 2 years of seasoning with the National team, he made the leap to the OHL and the London Knights in 06-07. Playing on a sick line that included future pros Sergei Kostitsyn and Sam Gagner, he amassed 62 goals and 83 assists- 145 points in 58 games. He was the OHL rookie of the year and MVP runner up to John Tavares, carrying his team to a runner up finish in the championship.

As the 2007 draft approached the Chicago Blackhawks were in disarray. The once loud and proud barn known as the United Center (the former Chicago Stadium) was often half empty. By a stroke of luck, even though they were slotted as the 5th worst team, they won the draft lottery and moved up 4 spots to #1. Few would know at the time that a red revival was only a year or two away. Patrick Kane was that #1 pick.

Some will argue that an 18 year old has no business being in the NHL, however a rookie year with 21 goals and 51 assists quickly put that argument to bed. While not quite Sid Crosby or Alex Ovechkin numbers, he is on par with another young sensation, Pittsburgh’s Evegeni Malkin, and Kane was younger then any of them as a rookie. So far this year, he has 8 goals and 14 assists, on tap to finish somewhere around 40-70 if he keeps it up. Off the ice as well, he has been nothing but an outgoing, friendly ambassador to the fans and Blackhawk charities, and the kind of young man you would be proud for your kids to emulate. The future looks very bright for both he and Chicago fans, and hopefully when people talk about that list of “American” greats in 20 years, he will be at the top.

Patrick Kane Best Hockey Cards

5. 07-08 Fleer Ultra Ice medallion rookie /100. This one is more of a vanity pick for myself. Ultra is kind of a blue collar everyman set that never gets the love of the fancier ones, but nonetheless a cool set to pick up a mini “rainbow” of the regular, gold, and ice rookies. Limited to just 100 and with probably a few redemptions that will never even get cashed in, this is a great rare affordable card. High book around $150, the few that do come up can be got for around $100… for now!

4. 07-08 SP Authentic Future Watch rookie patch auto /100. The Future Watch patches are usually attractive and with the array of colors in the Blackhawks logo, some of these as well as the Cup, are simply stunning. Patch high book around $500, though some can be had for $300. Affordable option is the SP auto only /999 which can still be nabbed for $50 or $60.

2007-8 SP Authentic Future Patrick Kane

3. 07-08 Upper Deck The Cup. Not much to say. The Cup continues to be the Holy Grail of sets, and he and Carey Price are the two Holy Grail players. High book value around $1000, though single color swatches can be had for around $400. An alternative is the rookie gold numbered to 88 that are just as nice and rarer but due to the hockey hobby’s odd habit of not recognizing parallels, can be had for around half the price of his regular Cup.

2007-08 The Cup Patrick Kane

2. 07-08 Upper Deck Ice. Limited to just 99, you have a needle in a haystack chance of pulling one, but if you can get one at a reasonable price, the sky’s the limit! High book $500 you might be able to sneak one at $400 if you can find one!

2007-08 Upper Deck Ice Patrick Kane

1. 07-08 Upper Deck Young Guns. I thought about adding an unusual stick piece or something here but decided to go with 5 cards that were (generally!) available for the average collectors, and this is my #1 best card pick. Affordable, obtainable, and a cool looking card. High book $80, can still be got for $35-$45 with a little searching and surely this card has nowhere to go but up! And for those who think it’s too common to be the “best” Kane? go for the YG exclusives /100 or high gloss /10. Again, good luck searching!

2007-08 Upper Deck Young Guns Patrick Kane