ST. LOUIS - Patrick Kane is in his 13th NHL season and he's participating in his ninth career All-Star Game this weekend, which is the most of any player that's attending. And both of those numbers will continue to go up.
But don't tell Kane that. He may be 31, but he sure doesn't feel like he's the old guy around here.
"I don't want to be considered the Old Man," Kane said during Thursday's Media Day session. "I'm still only 31 years old. Obviously there's a lot of young talent in the NHL and a lot of guys I like to watch playing and that I recognize are really good players, so it's fun to meet them and talk to them and just talk about your seasons and your team and what's going on around the league. I feel like I'm just another hockey player."
To Kane, he's just another hockey player. But to others around the league, he's more than that.
Twenty of the 44 All-Stars this season are participating in their first one and many of them have idolized Kane growing up.
Quinn Hughes, who played with Kane for Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, is one of them. Even as a defenseman, Hughes watched Kane every chance he would get as a kid.
"Yeah, thanks Quinn," Kane said with a smile. "I feel a little bit older now, so thanks."
But even though Kane is one of the older players here, he doesn't take it for granted. He attends every year because it's a good opportunity to represent the Blackhawks and the NHL, and it's also a chance to pay it forward.
"I can remember Joe Thornton being in the locker room, that was pretty cool to see him," Kane said of who he was excited to meet at his first All-Star appearance. "I remember when I was in Ottawa, I was preparing for that little breakaway challenge ... and I had to go to the rink that morning to practice some of it and see how it'd all come together. And I remember [Pavel] Datsyuk coming to the rink as well and he got on the bike and just worked out. It was just me and him on this big bus and then whoever else we had with us."
Each All-Star Game stands out for Kane. And now he's looking to create more memories.
On Friday, Kane will participate in the "Shooting Stars Challenge," where players will shoot pucks at a variety of targets from the stands. It's the first time the NHL is incorporating this event into the competition.
On Saturday, Kane hopes to be on the winning side of the 3-on-3 All-Star Game because the Central Division has yet to win it since the format changed in 2016.
"All of them have their own memories," Kane said. "You look back on Montreal was my first one, Ottawa had the Superman thing, LA was the top 100, even Columbus we had like five of us there, or six of us. Each of them have their own memory. It's one of things where, when you're done playing, you look back and say, ‘I went to this many All-Star Games.' That's where my head's at right there."
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Why NHL All-Star appearances never get old for Patrick Kane originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago