DETROIT (AP) — Patrick Kane says there are things he knows now — on and off the ice — that he didn't when he was the youngest player on USA Hockey's team at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
"How to work harder in the summer or take better care of yourself as far as eating and different things like that," Kane said. "Picking the right times to have fun with the guys and to make sure that when you're doing it, you're doing it right, and you're careful about the way you're going about it."
Kane's maturation no doubt played a part in the Chicago Blackhawks winning two of the last four Stanley Cups. His improved street smarts and on-ice savvy could also improve the Americans' chances of winning Olympic gold in hockey for the first time since 1980. The 25-year-old Kane said he gets chills when he watches movies about the "Miracle on Ice."
He hopes to help the current crop of U.S. players live up to higher-than-usual expectations next month at the Sochi Games.
"We have a chance, especially after a little bit of a transition period a few years back, to really make a name for ourselves," Kane said.
Kane was taken No. 1 overall in the 2007 NHL draft by Chicago. He became a transcendent athlete, though, for unwanted reasons twice in recent years.
Kane was arrested after an altercation with a cab driver in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., in the summer of 2009. A few years later, Internet photos popped up of him partying in Madison, Wis.
He still enjoys having a good time, but might be settling down a bit with a girlfriend, who plans to cheer him on in Russia along one of his sisters and their mother.
"There's a lot of things I've learned in the past few years — for sure," Kane acknowledged.
With skates on his feet and a stick in his hand, Kane is arguably playing better than ever in his seven-year NHL career.
He is more patient with the puck, dangling it to set up a shot for teammates or himself, and it is paying off. The winger leads the defending champion Blackhawks with 59 points and he ranks among NHL leaders with 24 goals despite a recent drought.