Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why The Blackhawks Pat Kane Has It All. . .

He won last year's rookie of the year, even over the more highly touted Jonathan Toews, his teammate on the Blackhawks (although yes, Toews leg injury might have had something to do with it).

He is currently among the league leaders in points at this stage in the NHL season.

He's a great ambassador of the game, and at a young age, has proven to be both a great athlete and a great person.

Not long ago, there was yet another example of this fact.

This story, while no longer new, and thankfully still being shared, I think deserves one more roll.

The NHL, to me, and I may be biased, certainly has the best athletes. The guys who grew up living in small Canadian, U.S., or European towns. Guys that took buses for hours in the cold, unforgiving landscape. Guys whose parents made sacrifices few of us will ever understand.

These guys - most I would say, perhaps not all, but most - remember where they came from. Remember how they go to where they are, and most importantly, who helped to get them there.

Many go back home in the summers and some go back to the life style they previously knew. Humble, charitable. They are special people.

I'm not denying hockey players don't want to play for the money. I'm sure they do. It's a tough game, and I've watched many a player not be able to continue with it, and struggle to get that regular life back after their playing careers are over. So to have the money to not worry about the little things, is important.

I hear the salaries players still make in the NBA and MLB and I shake my head. Then and only then does the $7 million for certain players in our league not seem so outrageous.

But it's the stories like these that put everything into perspective. The "Blackhawks Go To McDonalds" story, if you haven't heard it. This is a slightly different writeup than the one I first read. Even if you know the story, it's worth another look:

And the original, in case you are curious:

Just take a minute at this time of year and think about it.

Was it a huge sacrifice for them, probably not. But was it meaningful for Dale Tallon? Absolutely.
All sorts of people make sacrifices along the way - parents, coaches, friends, loved ones - to see these players play the game they love. This is just one more example of giving back.

The McDonalds part. That's the cheese on the Big Mac, if you will.

Guys who can afford to eat at the best restaurants in every city they visit, but it's McDonalds they choose go to.

When I was growing up, I ate more McDonalds cheeseburgers than any one person should have. Those Golden Arches were a beacon on long stretches of highway, both in faraway places and close to home.

Perhaps it felt that way for those guys, especially young Toews and Kane, not far removed from their own youths. Or still very much in them, depending on how you look at it.

But getting back to Pat Kane for a moment. I've said before, he might never be a better player than his captain and teammate Toews, but I like him better. I like the way he speaks, the way he plays, the way he thinks. He is going to be great for Chicago and great for the United States.

Earlier this week, I watched a Blackhawks game. The announcing team mentioned that Kane's mantra, if you will, comprises three things:

-Be a good person.

-Take care of your family.

-Have fun.

If those are not the words and thoughts of a great role model, I am not sure what are.

The league is truly blessed with so many great people, and even more young, great players on the rise.

In reading that, you are perhaps less surprised that the Blackhawks chose to do what they did for Tallon. Perhaps you realize it's being a good person above being the best player that many NHL players want to be remembered for.

In Kane's case, again last year's Rookie of the Year, and currently tied for 5th in league scoring with Boston's Marc Savard and Calgary's Jarome Iginla (15G-23A-38pts), I think there will be much more he is remembered for than just being a good person.

Just another reason I like hockey, folks. Just one of the, oh, 47-million.

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