Kane more than able

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

As Patrick Kane devours a post-practice pizza still dressed in his Chicago Blackhawks uniform, he hardly gives off the image of an NHL all-star.

Nor does the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder look like someone who is carrying an Original Six team.

Right now, Kane is leading all-star voting and the Blackhawks.

"Look at him over there," said linemate Patrick Sharp. "He looks like he's one of the fans who is coming down for autographs.

"Look at the way he's sitting over there, he looks like he's 15. He has NHL players chasing him every night," Sharp continued.

"He's a special player, and I'm glad he's on our side."

Taken first overall by the 'Hawks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Kane quickly emerged as an offensive force. With 71 points in 82 games last season, Kane captured the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Nearly halfway into his second NHL season, Kane has improved dramatically along with the 'Hawks, who have picked up their play under new coach Joel Quenneville.

In 29 games this season, Kane has 14 goals and 23 assists. He heads into tonight's game against the Calgary Flames coming off his fifth three-point night of the season, which happened in Tuesday's 9-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

The best part about Kane is he just turned 20.

"For me, I've been a goal-scorer my whole life, but I had to learn how to score in this league," Kane said. "I had to learn how to get myself open more. It's a lot of work.

"Last year, we had a lot of injuries, and all of a sudden we were leaning on me to be on the first line. It's tough to face the top defenceman."

With the likes of Kane and fellow kids Jonathan Toews, Cam Barker, Kris Versteeg and Brent Seabrook, the 'Hawks look to be an NHL force for several years.

Right now, they are just trying to get some experience in tough games.

"We are a young team," Sharp said. "I'm 26, and I'm considered an old guy. I'm not sure if that's good or not. "But when you are winning games and scoring goals, it's a lot of fun. Kaner's leading the way in the fun department because he's leading our team.

"From my standpoint, I like playing with him. He's easy to be on the ice with.

"He has a scoring touch, but he looks to pass first and he sees the ice well. I look to shoot first, so we complement each other well. It's a long season, and we want to keep this up."

Kane said Quenneville has brought fun back to the 'Hawks since taking over from Denis Savard earlier this season.

The practice yesterday at the Saddledome was high-tempo with a plenty of goofing around.

Enjoying the job is one reason Kane is tied for fourth in league scoring, which helped him take over the Western Conference lead for forwards in all-star voting, a stat that kind of shocks the youngster from Buffalo, N.Y.

"I always phone my mom and sisters and tell them to stop voting for me," Kane said with a laugh.

"I'm not sure if I deserve to be in there with such great players, such as (Jarome) Iginla, (Marian) Hossa or (Pavel) Datsyuk.

"At the same time, it's nice to be recognized. If my mom voted 20 times, then that shouldn't make much of a difference, should it?"


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