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Greg Wyshynski

Patrick Kane: 'We're not coming here just to win bronze or silver'

Greg Wyshynski
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Something clicked about Patrick Kane(notes) when talking to the Chicago Blackhawks winger on Monday (and it wasn't just that he looks less like a speed skater than a guy trying to jump his bike over Grand Canyon). The 2010 Winter Games could be his moment.

There are other players looking to break out for the U.S. in this tournament; Ryan Miller(notes) of the Buffalo Sabres, for example, could obviously be a household name for the casual observer if the Americans medal and he plays every game, as is currently the plan. But few players on the roster have Kane's offensive flourish or his off-ice notoriety. He's a star in the way I'm not sure other players on the U.S. are or can be; and this is a stage on which stars have to shine. Ovechkin will. Crosby will. I have a feeling Kane will.

He said his knee is fine, which is a relief for the U.S. That's not all he said while holding court after practice. A sample:

• I asked Kane about the underdog label, which is something Brian Burke said is not "a card" the team is playing but rather one dealt by the media. His answer immediately went to Canada:

"It's something I think we can embrace, for sure," he said. "I think Canada has so much pressure on them, so many expectations from just the media around here that, if they don't win, obviously it's going to be a downfall for them.

"I think it's definitely something we can use in our favor, especially playing against Canada. With the crowd, it's going to be 100 percent at their back. If we can get up on an early lead, maybe use the crowd against them, maybe it can go in our favor too. Obviously I'm sure everyone here doesn't want us to win. But that's the way it is. I'm not worried about what we have in our locker room. I think we're pretty excited about the challenge. We're not coming here just to win bronze or silver. I can honestly say everyone wants to win gold."

• On playing for the U.S.: "Obviously, playing for your nation that's given us so much opportunity and freedom, it's a situation you want to be in. I wouldn't want to play for any other country."

Someone asked the limo question. Sort of. The exact phrasing was "Patrick, how do you handle being back here in Vancouver off the ice, with all these eyes on you now?" But the drift was caught.

Kane's response: "Yeah, it's something I'm just going to have to be aware of. That's the way it is now, and I'm just going to have to accept it. It's not something I'm worried about; with these games going on, all you're really worried about is hockey and performing for your country. So I'm not worried about off the ice issues."

In other words: I'm in the Olympic Village, and there's about a zero percent chance of USA Hockey allowing me to get into a compromising position until the shackles come off in March.

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