The Chicago Blackhawks will play their first home contest since dealing franchise legend Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers when they host the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
The long-rumored deal of Kane was officially announced just before the Blackhawks finished a four-game road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday in Tempe, Ariz. That trade came just a day after Chicago sent defenseman Jake McCabe and center Sam Lafferty packing to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We knew it was going to happen, but still when you see it is actually true, it's pretty crazy," Chicago center Philipp Kurashev said. "I never thought (Kane) would play for another team."
Kane, one of the greatest U.S.-born hockey players of all time, led Chicago to three Stanley Cups and recorded 1,225 points (446 goals, 779 assists) in 16 seasons and 1,161 regular-season games with the Blackhawks. He scored two goals and also had an assist in his final game with Chicago, which rallied from a 3-0, second-period deficit to win 4-3 at Dallas on Feb. 22.
After the loss to the Coyotes, Chicago coach Luke Richardson decided to keep the Blackhawks overnight in Arizona and urged his team to socialize at the hotel.
"The NHL is no place for losing," Richardson said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "But we're in a position right now where we have a lot new players here. We need to almost, not (exactly) start over, but create some new bonds here and relationships and some chemistry we can move forward with."
Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy added, "Your team becomes your family. Knowing obviously guys were going to be traded, it still isn't easy."
Especially a player as impactful as Kane.
"(Kane and captain Jonathan Toews, sidelined due to an illness) brightened up a lot of people's lives in the city for so many years," Murphy said. "Being around them, whether it's out to dinner or even just walking around the city, the amount of people that would walk up and just thank them for being them, I think that speaks a little bit to the impact they have people in the city and what they've done for our team."
Dallas will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set that began with a 4-2 home victory over Arizona on Wednesday.
The Stars increased their lead in the Central over the idle Minnesota Wild to three points while improving their recent record to just 2-3-3 in the past eight games.
Dallas topped the Coyotes despite falling behind 2-0 in the first 14 minutes, the seventh time in eight games the Stars allowed the first goal.
Tyler Seguin led the comeback with two goals and an assist, and Miro Heiskanen scored the game-winner at 4:38 of third period with a low shot that deflected in off Arizona forward Christian Fischer.
"We just started working a little harder, winning more battles," Seguin said of the comeback. "I think we're just genuinely (ticked) off. We lost to some teams lately that we should be beating. We didn't want to walk out of here saying it was a good effort, had good chances, or a hot goalie."
Heiskanen added, "A huge win for us, and hopefully we're going to get another one (Thursday). We need a good start. That's the important thing right now. I think we have been really bad lately in the first period."
--Field Level Media