CHICAGO — Patrick Kane said he has been working through an unspecified “issue” that has been bothering the Chicago Blackhawks forward since before the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s something that I worked on all summer, so it’s been, I don’t want to say frustrating, but it’s been like nagging me a little bit,” Kane said at the NHL Player Media Tour on Thursday. “We’re at the point now where I think it’s finally starting to turn the corner and seeing some progress.”
The 32-year-old, who didn’t miss a game last season and led the Blackhawks in scoring with 66 points (15 goals, 51 assists), said he will be ready when training camp opens Sept. 23.
“To be honest with you, I’m excited with where I’m at. Hopefully I’m feeling good to start the season,” Kane said.
“Obviously, I have different conversations with doctors and the training staff, so I’m sure we’ll kind of readjust it. But to me, there’s no worries going into camp.”
Kane has been skating in Chicago with several teammates, including center Jonathan Toews, who took a medical leave of absence prior to last season because of what is being called chronic immune response syndrome.
Although there’s no timetable for Toews’ return, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Aug. 2 that their captain, who scored 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) in 70 games in 2019-20, is expected to play at some point this season.
“It’ll be nice to get him back in the lineup and have like that 1-2 punch that we always had when we were on different lines,” Kane said. “It makes it a little bit more of a tougher matchup for other teams, so that’ll be nice to have him back.
“He’s working hard. You can tell he’s really focused on getting his body and his mind in the right place to be able to play and be successful. Other than that, I mean, just happy to have him back and such a big part of our team, you know? Whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, (he) just brings that presence.”
The Blackhawks made several changes to their roster this offseason. They acquired defenseman Seth Jones in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Adam Boqvist and three draft picks July 23, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights for forward prospect Mikael Hakkarainen on July 27, and defenseman Caleb Jones, Seth’s brother, in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Duncan Keith and minor league forward Tim Soderlund on July 12.
Chicago also signed defenseman Jake McCabe to a four-year contract July 28.
“You look at the defense we have, the goaltending we have, and you’re building from the back up,” Kane said. “It’s definitely a good way to build and definitely pretty confident our team, definitely our roster this year, is a lot better. Lots of turnover, but it’s exciting.”
Despite that turnover, Kane said he knows how tough it will be for the Blackhawks to qualify for the playoffs from the Central Division. Last season, Chicago (24-25-7) finished sixth in the eight-team Discover Central Division, which did not include the Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes or St. Louis Blues.
“You look at some teams, Minnesota’s better and Colorado, Nashville, St. Louis, it’ll be a tough division,” he said. “I’m confident about our team, though. I’m feeling good about where we’re at.”