Thursday, August 14, 2014
Kane wins title, MVP in hometown league
By Scott Powers
Patrick Kane has a knack for scoring clutch playoff goals regardless of the jersey he's wearing.
The Chicago Blackhawks star and Buffalo native led Milli Vanilli to the Fattey Hockey League title by scoring five of his team's 10 goals in back-to-back wins in a best-of-three series in his hometown earlier this week. He was named the championship MVP.
"It's basically the best Buffalo players," Nik Fattey, the league's founder and a Buffalo Sabres scout, explained of the league in a phone interview on Thursday. "It's not like a bar league. It's a competitive league. It's kind of like a Rucker Park sort of thing, NBA summer league."
Fattey said the 25-year-old Kane, a three-time All-Star who just signed an eight-year, $84 million contract extension with the Blackhawks this summer, has been playing in the league for the past five years.
"I think he loves hockey is what it comes down to," Fattey said. "It's where he was born and stuff. No different than a guy who returns to Toronto or Montreal to train and play. Again, lots of guys do play. It's a pretty high level.
"The game's changing. Guys used to take the summer off. They want to keep active now. Guys didn't skate in the past, now they do. It's been really good for the skating. It's games. It's not practicing. Where else can you get a skate and not just glide along? Plus, guys love scoring goals. I don't care where it is."
Kane, of course, does love to score goals. Fattey said the two-time Stanley Cup champion and 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winner treated fans to a special one in the league's semifinals.
"In the semifinals, he scored just an unbelievable goal," Fattey said. "He came up on the wing and threw up a backhander and it got under the bar. Everyone got their oohs and aahs in."
Kane talked recently about what motivates him to play when he returns to Buffalo.
"When I go back home, it's exciting for me and my buddies to play hockey," Kane said Aug. 4 in Crestwood, Illinois. "It's something we do for fun. By no means if we're playing a game like that, do you think it's going to get out to the media or you think it's going to be a big story or anything like that. You're just going to have fun. That's exactly what we were doing.
"I love the game. I love playing it whether it's in the NHL or in a little men's league during the summer. It's obviously not all the same, but it's still the game of hockey. You can enjoy that way."