Patrick Kane said the Chicago Blackhawks are going to be a better team than people think this season.
“A lot of good players, from goalie to the back end to the forwards, so I think coming into this year, it’s probably a different year than years in the past where I think there’s a lot more confidence, a lot more excitement about the team we have, the season we could have as a team,” the forward said Wednesday.
“And it still feels like people aren’t really expecting us to be a good team, or maybe better but not necessarily a playoff team. That’s our goal, to prove people wrong and get in the playoffs and hopefully hit our stride.”
The Blackhawks, who went 24-25-7 and finished sixth in the Discover Central Division last season, added several players this offseason, acquiring defenseman Seth Jones in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 23, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights and forward Tyler Johnson in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 27, and defenseman Caleb Jones, Seth’s brother, from the Edmonton Oilers on July 12. They also signed defenseman Jake McCabe to a four-year contract July 28.
Johnson, a center, has been playing on the top line with Kane at right wing and Alex DeBrincat at left wing throughout training camp. They’ve also played in two preseason games together.
“He’s a guy who’s obviously pretty knowledgeable about the game and what works, what doesn’t,” Kane said of Johnson, who won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning the past two seasons. “We’re continually trying to talk about things and figure out some chemistry, but I think it’s been pretty good for most of the games. I’m sure we’ll probably play one more game, dial it in a little bit more and get ready for the regular season.”
Kane is also excited to have back captain Jonathan Toews, who didn’t play last season because of what is being called chronic immune response syndrome. Toews has played center on the second line with various players in camp, including Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev and Dominik Kubalik.
“I’ve known ‘Jonny’ for a long time. I’m not really surprised at him overcoming anything,” Kane said. “He’s such a competitor. Obviously, looking forward to having him in the lineup this year. I think he’s going to help in a lot of ways, having a 1-2 punch and also on the power play, face-offs, being down low.
“I’m excited about the power play this year as well. I think it could be a real fun thing for us to get going and have success on. I’m sure he’ll be a big part of that. It’s just good to have him back and in all facets, on and off the ice, leadership. He’ll be a big help to the team this year.”