The Canadian fans roared in excitement with dancing maple-leaf flags. Chants of “Crosby! Crosby! Crosby!” filled the arena. The Canadian team smothered Sidney Crosby on the ice. The moment was perfect in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver following Crosby’s game-winning goal in overtime.
Unless you were an American.
Team USA skated on the ice during the postgame mayhem with their heads down and spirits crushed. A Zach Parise game-tying goal with seconds left in regulation gave the Americans hope heading into overtime before ultimately falling short to the tune of “O Canada” minutes later.
It was painful for Team USA to lose in such a manner; for the Chicago Blackhawks‘ Patrick Kane, assisting on two goals in his Olympics debut, the sting of defeat was no different.
“In 2010, I was kind of young and naive to know what was really going on,” Kane said, via NBCSports.com.
Kane had plenty of time to grow, learn and develop as a player since then.
His Blackhawks reached the pinnacle of professional hockey last year, the second time in four years. He received the Conn Smythe Trophy, the playoff MVP honors, following a grueling back-and-forth series with the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.
He is also currently the fifth-ranked scorer in the NHL with 63 points in 59 games.
But that one so-called “golden goal” isn’t going to disappear.
“Looking back at that game, I actually watched it for the first time this year,” he said. “That gold-medal game, just to kind of relive the situation, and see how important it was to the game of hockey. I feel I’ve grown a lot and matured a lot, just like any 21-year-old would to being 25 four years later. It was a great experience, but I think I know a little more this time around.”
Despite his success, the right winger’s hockey skills weren’t the only thing being tested during the four-year Olympic Winter Games break.
Kane became a frequent Deadspin.com topic during the break, constructing a “party boy” image in the eyes of fans. Drunk, sulking pictures of him during his time in Madison, Wis. in 2012 gave plenty of ammunition for his enemies to fire back on social media. The Blackhawks organization even suggested Kane seek help, according to the Sun-Times.
But something else happened earlier this month that shook his world.
Donald Kane, Patrick’s grandfather, died on Feb. 3. He was 87.
Before taking the ice for a game against the Los Angeles Kings, Kane learned of the tragic news. After scoring his first goal that night, the grandson would kiss his fingers and point them toward the sky in respect for his deceased grandfather. Then the tears came flowing down.
“He lived next door to me my whole childhood,” Kane said in a postgame interview, via NHL.com. “We’d do things like play cards and hang out by the pool throughout the summers. He came to a lot of my hockey games, but more importantly, for him, he was worried about grades and being a good kid. It was a tough day, for sure.”
Nine days later in Sochi, Russia, preparing for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Kane had time to reflect.
“I’m happy I went home [for the funeral],” he said, via USA Today. “Having it not on my mind as much as it would have been, say, if it happened during the tournament.”
Kane also mentioned that all of the grandchildren were given keepsakes which he brought to Sochi, according to USA Today.
Kane’s script is written; he is in a position to make good on every negative in the last four years and capitalize on all the positives he has already encountered.
Revenge on Canada? Redemption from the overtime loss? Honor for his grandfather? Wipe away the negative reputation he has from years ago? Take your pick.
But one thing’s certain: a gold medal on the international stage would be a great way to move his life and career forward.
“My mind’s completely on hockey now, and I want to try to do the best for my country,” he said.
Win it, Kane.
Win it for the Blackhawks fans who cheered for you since you were drafted first overall in 2007. Win it for the U.S. for the first time since the “Miracle on Ice” 34 years ago.
But most importantly, win it for you, Kane.