PHILADELPHIA -- After the morning workout in preparation for Game Six, Patrick Kane talked about how he would play hockey in his basement in South Buffalo and imagine himself scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final, all while doing his best impersonation of Rick Jeanneret.
"All the time," he said.
Talk about living the dream.
Kane scored 4:06 into overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Flyers and their first Stanley Cup since the 1960-61 season when he beat Michael Leighton with a wrist shot from a bad angle. The 21-year-old was the first to see the puck crossed the goal line, and he immediately threw his gloves into the air and raced to his teammates. He also forever earned his a place in Chicago sports folklore.
"I can't believe this just happened," Kane said. "It's something you dream of as a kid. To score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals, it was just unbelievable."
It capped an incredible year for Kane, who had more emotional highs and lows that he could count. He was arrested last August after a dispute with a Buffalo cab driver. He earned a silver medal for the United States in the Olympics. He led his team in scoring with 30 goals and 88 points, both career highs. And now he realized a boyhood dream that he has since he was a kid in South Buffalo.
He was asked about the year during his post-game news conference.
"It didn't start off very good back in August," he said. "But sometimes you go through those kinds things as a young kid. You really learn from them and try to better yourself as a person and as an athlete. Hockey-wise, I can be pretty satisfied. I thought I had a pretty good year."
I would say so. Kane joined Kevyn Adams, Todd Marchant and Brooks Orpik as players who were either born or raised in Western New York to win a Cup in the past five years. Kane expects to bring the Cup back to Buffalo sometime this summer. Several family members and friends made the drive down to Philly to see him win it all.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, who was raised in Williamsville and graduated from Canisius, also wins his first Cup. His father, who is a senior advisor, has now been involved with 11 Cup winners, including 10 as a coach. Sweet Home High grad Pete Hassen also is a member of the 'Hawks organization in the marketing and community relations department.
"It's pretty crazy," Kane said. "You envision this and hope for the best when you first come in. It's obviously been an unbelievable year. It's very exciting and fun to be a part of right now. Crazy game tonight. Just an unbelievable result."
--- Bucky Gleason