Kane sat out the final 12 regular-season games while healing from a knee injury he suffered on March 19. He will make his return Thursday in Game 1 of the Blackhawks’ first-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
“I’m excited to play hockey again,” Kane said after the team’s morning skate at the Scottrade Center. “Excited to be in a game situation and play a game. It’s exciting. I’m getting a little anxious to get out there and play. But at the same time I feel good. I feel ready. I feel I’m ready to play hockey again.
“Everyone kind of goes through their certain injuries and different things they have to deal with. It’s something I haven’t been through a lot in my career. But I’m definitely happy it’s over and excited to play.”
Kane will be getting back on the ice with a brace on his left knee. He dismissed the thought it could restrict his offensive-powered game. He said he talked with Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell and some other players who have worn knee braces for advice.
“Once you get used to it you’re fine,” Kane said. “There’s guys that have probably played with this type of thing their whole career and even guys on our team that have played with it. I think you kind of get used to it as you start playing and skating with it. I skated probably eight or nine times before tonight’s game so I’m pretty used to it.
“It’ll be different once you get into a game setting, game atmosphere. For me personally, I try to feel out how it feels, but overall it feels really good lately. I don’t have any worries.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville shared those same feelings.
“He’s skated very well,” Quenneville said. “The first couple of days he was on the ice he looked like he had some jump in his stride. He’s been on about 10 days since then. He’s practiced well with us the last few days. He seems like he’s comfortable. We’re happy with the way he’s progressed.”
Kane was more concerned about his timing after sitting out nearly a month. He was averaging a point a game when he was injured. He had 29 goals and 40 assists in 69 regular-season games.
“I think just getting into a game situation is the biggest thing, trying to get your timing back and trying to get yourself back in the mode of playing hockey in a game,” Kane said. “You can practice and skate as much as you want, but it’s totally different from a game. It’ll be a new animal tonight. I’m going to try and get out there and do the best I can.”
Kane will be sporting his traditional mullet this season as he has for the past few playoffs. Brandon Saad again joined in with him on the haircut.
“I think it came about four years ago,” Kane said. “It’s something we’ve done I think three years and it’s been successful two of the three years and hopefully it’s successful again. I don’t think it has anything to do with how we play as a team and what we do. But after a while when you’re winning I guess with this type of haircut, it’s kind of something you have to go back to.”