- Scott Burnside, NHL
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Hawks captain Jonathan Toews was happy to share his story of how he pounded on Kane’s door with no result. Teammate Patrick Sharp joked that this was what happens when he wasn’t around to babysit the star winger. Even Kane good-naturedly admitted his parents had been trying to reach him on the phone to make sure he was up for his flight, but he’d turned the ringer off and thrown his phone across the room in anger.
Fast-forward to this year’s event in Ottawa and there is ample evidence that the young man who has lived large during his short time in the NHL is growing up.
General manager Stan Bowman, with whom Kane lived when he first broke into the NHL after being the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, said he has definitely noticed a change in Kane’s demeanor.
“I’ve definitely seen a different maturity in him,” Bowman told ESPN.com in a phone call from team scouting meetings in Las Vegas.
“He’s taking care of himself really good right now."
After developing a reputation as a party boy -- especially after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup finals -- Kane appears to have embraced a more pastoral lifestyle.
It's a small thing, but with his parents and a friend in town for the All-Star proceedings, Kane insisted that team staff working over the weekend join them for dinner.
“He’s not the kid in that way that he used to be,” Bowman said.
For a period of time, photos of Kane out on the town would regularly pop up in various places on the Internet, but those occasions seem to have waned. There are few reports of excessive socializing in Chicago or on the road.
“I don’t know. I think as time goes on you start to grow up a little bit," Kane said Friday. "I probably learned that ever since I was 18 'til 23, now every year, I think I get a little bit more mature and start focusing on the things that really matter in life.
“For me, I think I’m still a kid. I mean everyone likes to have their fun and do some different things away from the rink. I’ve always kind of prided myself on being myself and trying to stick true to who I am and how I was raised."
This has been an interesting season for the evolving Kane.
After starting out on fire offensively, he has found himself in a slump with just two goals in his last 17 games.
Bowman recalled a moment not long ago when he found a disconsolate Kane in the hallway after another game in which he’d played well but had failed to score.
“He looked like he was pretty down on himself," Bowman said. "He almost looked like a lost soul."
The two chatted about Kane’s dry spell and the frustrations he was feeling at not being able to produce.
“It was like I was talking to my son. You forget he’s just a kid,” Bowman said.
Kane acknowledged that he is working through some difficult times on the ice but maybe this, too, is part of a young man’s maturation process. For someone who has had so much success so early in his career -- along with winning a Cup, Kane was the NHL’s rookie of the year and won an Olympic silver medal in 2010 -- these moments will help define what kind of player Kane will be moving forward.
“It’s something you think about a lot," Kane said. "I still think I’m there with my game, it’s just sometimes you don’t get the production you want. I still feel I have the puck a lot, I still feel that I’m making plays. Just, I don’t want to say I’m not getting the bounces, but it’d be nice to produce a little bit more and score some goals and help out the team a bit.
“Just try and stick with it, keep working hard and hopefully it’ll come."
9hScott Burnside and Craig Custance