The 35-year-old agreed to a one-year, $2.75-million contract with the Red Wings on Tuesday after interviewing with a wide range of interested suitors over the last few weeks. He hit the ice with his new teammates for the first time during Wednesday’s morning skate.
It marked the first time the former Chicago Blackhawks star returned to the ice after undergoing right hip resurfacing surgery last summer.
As a three-time Stanley Cup champion, former MVP and five-time 30-goal scorer, Kane garnered plenty of attention from around the league, although there was one team he couldn’t shake from his mind: Detroit. Thus, it was an easy decision to join the up-and-coming Wings.
Patrick Kane stopped by to discuss his decision to sign with Detroit and his injury progress pic.twitter.com/WIJkvBNbs6
— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) November 30, 2023
“Two or three weeks ago, we started interviewing with teams that were either interested or I was interested [in],” Kane told the crew at TNT of the interview process. “And kind of went from there. So, it was a tough decision, especially through the whole process. It felt like a long time. It’s been about almost six months since the surgery.
“My heart was in Detroit. I would think about a place and it’d be all about that place for a day. My heart and my mind would, for some reason, always come back to Detroit. So it seemed like the right fit for me.”
Teams like the Florida Panthers and his hometown Buffalo Sabres were reportedly among the finalists for Kane’s services. But in the end, he chose the legendary Orignal Six franchise with 11 Stanley Cups in its trophy case.
Plus, it would’ve been incredibly tough to turn down an offer from one of the sport’s top executives, Steve Yzerman — who was named GM of the Year in 2015 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I came away very impressed talking to [Yzerman] and the head coach, Derek Lalonde, with our meeting,” Kane said. “There’s just a certain presence about him. When you talk to him, he seems very dialled in. I think they definitely wanted to go through the process the right way, too.”
Another factor that played a role in Kane’s decision was reuniting with one of his former Blackhawks teammates, Alex DeBrincat, who played alongside him for five seasons from 2017-22. The two will be paired together once he returns to game action.
Not only did that electric duo share waves of chemistry at the rink, but they also formed a tight-knit bond away from the barn. And that’s a connection he hopes they’ll now be able to reignite in Detroit.
“I had a lot of success with [DeBrincat] in Chicago playing there the last couple of years we were there,” Kane said. “He’s a great kid. He’s a fun kid to be around. We were very close on the ice, obviously, but even off the ice as well. He became one of my better friends.
“I think one of the things I really respected about him was he wasn’t afraid to tell me what to do on the ice or give it back to me if we were getting a little heated on the bench.”
After spending 16 seasons with the Blackhawks, Kane was dealt to the New York Rangers ahead of last season’s trade deadline, finishing with five goals and 12 points in 19 regular-season games. He added a goal and six points in the playoffs, albeit in a losing first-round effort.
But now that the four-time All-Star is healthy again, he’s confident about returning to his previous form as a point-per-game player — a feat he achieved in 11 of his 16 seasons in Chicago.
“I know, for a fact, I’m going to be better than I was last year and even the year before. I put up decent numbers, but I couldn’t really move laterally [or] side to side.”
Following the Red Wings’ morning skate at Madison Square Garden, Kane said he hopes to make his season debut in roughly 7-10 days, if not sooner.
The longtime Blackhawk has racked up 451 goals and 1,237 points across 1,180 career NHL games over 16 professional seasons.