Patrick Kane reflects on returning to Chicago with the Detroit Red Wings — then scores the game-winning goal in OT

Patrick Kane reflects on returning to Chicago with the Detroit Red Wings — then scores the game-winning goal in OT

Patrick Kane raised his arms and beckoned with both hands, perhaps as much of a taunt as it was a celebration.

He had scored an overtime game-winning goal at the United Center — not his first high-stakes highlight in that building — only this time in a 3-2 victory for the Detroit Red Wings. The hockey gods must have a dark and poetic sense of humor.

Oh, and it was fellow former Hawk Alex DeBrincat who scored the game-tying goal with 4 minutes and 16 seconds left in regulation.

Could Kane dream up a better finish his first game back in the building and first against the team he won three Stanley Cups with?

“I guess maybe you can think of some things, but that one’s pretty good,” Kane said after the game. “Gotta be happy with the way that one ended.”

But Kane was focused more on the sentiment of it all.

“Just the whole night was weird, to be honest with you,” he said. “Different kind of night.

“You’re trying to stay focused on a game, didn’t really feel like I was into it to start. Once the (video) tribute happened, it was nice to get that out of the way and start just focusing on hockey. I think I found my game in the second.

Kane said he was having “just a lot of emotions right now, scoring that goal, being back here, being on a different team. Just tried to show the fans there at the end they’ll always have my heart here.”

The game also represented the first meeting between Kane and his heir apparent, Connor Bedard.

“He’s a great player, very creative,” Kane said of Bedard. “Got a little physical on me in the corner there.”

Bedard, who’s still recovering from jaw surgery and wears a full face shield, snuck up on Kane in the third period and plastered him by the boards.

Kane laughed, “He’s lucky he had the bubble on or I was going after him.”

That interaction may be historic down the road but it was a footnote Sunday.

Not only was it Kane’s comeback, but Chris Chelios saw his No. 7 banner raised to the rafters in a retirement ceremony. Chelios carved part of the pregame ceremony to celebrate Kane.

“That jersey looks kind of funny on you, but it’ll grow on you,” Chelios joked. “Don’t worry, it’ll work out in the end. You’ll be standing here, same as me.

“But just be careful, don’t go stealing my thunder today. I’ve got money on the board to board to shut you down.”

Photos: Detroit Red Wings 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT)

So much for not stealing Chelios’ thunder.

“That was a nice touch, too,” Kane said about Chelios’ gesture. “Thought he forgot about me when he went to the four guys (Kane’s old teammates Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Marián Hossa and Brent Seabrook, who were in attendance). No, I don’t think you expect anything less from him, too. He’s a classy guy, he’s been a great friend to me for a long time.”

It was weird for Kane too.

It dawned on him when he first arrived in Chicago.

“When you just fly back into the city, driving back downtown, seeing the skyline and everything like that, it hits home a little bit more,” he told reporters at the Ritz-Carlton on Sunday morning.

Kane returned to Chicago for the first time as a Detroit Red Wing, with a range of new experiences awaiting him: staying at a Chicago hotel, seeing his former Chicago Blackhawks teammates, walking into the visitors locker room at the United Center.

“Someone was telling me yesterday not to just keep walking to the Blackhawks room,” Kane said. “You have to turn right at some point to go to the visitors room. It’ll be a little bit different. I’ve never been in that room except for one or two days in training camp, (when we) had the red and white scrimmage.

“That’ll be a little bit different but it’s just try to treat it like another road game. I know it isn’t, but hopefully settle in quickly and just play tonight.”

Before the game, Kane said, “I don’t know if I’m nervous. I’m just more looking forward to everything, kind of excited about the whole night in general.”

Kane said he had a contingent of 20 to 25 friends and relatives there.

He was more than happy to share the spotlight with Chelios: “It’s nice Cheli takes the burden off me a little bit.”

“Just knowing Cheli, too, he’s been such a big supporter of USA hockey,” Kane said. “Not only that but he’s been a great friend to me. Even when I was going through the whole process this summer, just checking in with him and talking to him about certain situations was very beneficial to me.

“So, for me, another friend is getting a great honor tonight. You add that on top of how much he’s meant to the Blackhawks and USA hockey and just the legend that he is and how long he played, it’s pretty cool. It kind of goes hand in hand.”

Kane could see his own No. 88 raised to the rafters one day, likely not long after he decides to hang up his jersey for the last time.

He got a taste of that treatment when a montage of his highlights was shown on the big board and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 21,141. He was urged to make several laps and wave to the crowd.

“Just so special,” he said after the game. “You don’t expect anything less from the Blackhawks with the tribute. Didn’t know if I did enough laps or too many laps. The guys kept telling me to go for another one, go for another one. Some of them wanted to see four, I only did three. It was great.”

He and the Hawks agreed last year that after 16 seasons and three Stanley Cups together, their run was over.

He played his last home game on Feb. 21, 2023, against the Vegas Golden Knights. He scored two goals and added an assist in his final game as a Hawk — in Dallas.

They came to a mutually beneficial decision: The Hawks traded Kane to a playoff contender — the New York Rangers — and as part of the package, the Hawks received a 2023 second-round draft pick, which they used to select winger Martin Misiak.

“We were playing San Jose and I was just kind of getting ready for just playing another game and New York was able to speed up the process on a trade, so I had to make a decision within like 24 hours if I wanted to go or not and decided to take on the challenge, so it was all really quick,” Kane said.

“Even coming back to Chicago after that, (Jonathan Toews) was back here, and maybe someone else and I was skating and hanging out with them a little bit and thought I was going to be around for a couple more days and the trade went through pretty quick, so I pretty much was getting up and leaving.

“Everyone has different situations, whether free agency or trade or middle of the season, and that was kind of something a little bit different, so it’ll be nice to be back and just share the moment with everyone.”

Kane’s run with the Rangers ended with a first-round playoff loss to the New Jersey Devils.

In the aftermath, he had to make decisions about his future.

He had hip resurfacing surgery in June.

Kane weighed his options with several teams during his recovery, and on Nov. 28, he signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Red Wings, reuniting him with former Hawks linemate Alex DeBrincat.

Kane leaned on Chelios and others for advice.

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He said, “I was just trying to learn more about the organization. … My time in Chicago was probably at an end when it ended and that’s just the way it was, so I don’t think anyone was really going to hold a grudge on the situation I was in.”

Kane’s signing came too late for him to be in playing shape for the Red Wings’ home game against the Hawks on Nov. 30.

It gave him enough time for his uniform — once the markings of a hated nemesis — to not feel so strange anymore.

“It’s getting pretty normal now,” Kane said. “I’ve been lucky to play on some teams with great jerseys and Detroit is right up there at the top of the league.

“It’s been great, my time there — not only playing with DeBrincat again but there’s a lot of young guys on the team that work hard. … It’s been great being in Detroit in the situation they’re in, trying to compete for a playoff spot and watching the standings every night and seeing where you are.”

Kane has racked up 11 goals and 15 assists in 26 games for a Red Wings team that’s 31-20-6 and in wild-card position heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Hawks.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Kane said. “Really happy with my decision and can’t say enough positive things about the organization.”

Kane was asked after Sunday’s game-winning goal somehow made up for his missed opportunity for closure last season in Chicago.

“Yeah, maybe,” he said. “That’s a good tradeoff, I’ll take that.”