After skating at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday morning, Patrick Kane would have loved to play his first game for the Detroit Red Wings at night against the New York Rangers.
Six months removed from an invasive operation only two other NHL players have come back from, Kane will give his surgically repaired right hip a little more time.
After signing a prorated $2.75 million contract for the rest of the season with the Red Wings, a more realistic possibility for his debut is Tuesday in his hometown of Buffalo against the Sabres — one of the several interested teams Kane had to choose from. Home games against San Jose on Dec. 7 and Ottawa on Dec. 9 are also candidates.
"We’ll just take it day to day and keep getting better every day and then make a decision," Kane said on a video call with reporters Wednesday. “Get me up to speed, a few practices with the team, work on a few things in the gym and don’t really rush into it.”
The 35-year-old winger is roughly six months removed from undergoing hip resurfacing surgery. Kane said doctors cleared him for contact two months ago.
He feels significantly better than the last time he played: Game 7 of the Rangers' first-round series at New Jersey on May 1. Lateral movement is back after the nagging hip injury hampered him for quite some time.
“I’m in a good spot,” Kane said. “The hip feels good and everything like that. So now I think we’re just kind of easing into it and making sure I’m ready to go instead of just kind of throwing me into the fire."
A three-time Stanley Cup champion and 2016 NHL MVP with Chicago, Kane said former Blackhawks teammate Alex DeBrincat being with Detroit factored into his decision, along with the popularity of the sport in the place known as “Hockeytown.”
“Just the chemistry we’ve had on the ice the last couple of years in Chicago there (and) he’s become one of my better friends around the league off the ice,” Kane said of DeBrincat. “I really like kind of where they’re going as far as the team and they’re really building something that I think is going to have a lot of success here, so I’d like to be part of that.”
Coach Derek Lalonde told reporters in New York that Kane could get a look on a line with DeBrincat and possibly captain Dylan Larkin.
“Like any player, we want to put him in the best opportunity to be successful in his skillset,” Lalonde said. “I think we’d foresee him with some pretty good forwards.”
Kane is attempting to follow Ed Jovanovski and Nicklas Backstrom back to the NHL from hip resurfacing surgery, which involves dislocating the upper end of the thighbone, trimming it, capping it and removing cartilage before putting it back in place. He said his love and passion for hockey made up his mind to attempt a comeback rather than call it a career.
“I feel like I have a lot left to give,” Kane said. “I still feel good as far as how I feel on the ice and my conditioning and I don’t feel like I’m getting old or anything like that in that regard. I didn’t want it to be the reason I had to stop playing.”
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl
Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press