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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

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NHL awards: South Buffalonian caps first year by celebrating milestone moment with family

Kane able to raise Calder Trophy

Blackhawks rookie voted league’s best

by John Vogl -- News Sports Reporter
Updated: 06/13/08 9:32 AM


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Patrick Kane, who had the most points of any rookie in the NHL this season, shows off the Calder Trophy in Toronto.

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TORONTO — It was nothing the Kane family hadn’t done before. They loaded the car, crossed the border and headed to Toronto for yet another hockey outing for Patrick.

This time, though, it was tuxedos and dresses rather than skates and dolls. And this time, the Kanes went home with a huge honor.

Patrick Kane’s unbelievable two-year whirlwind continued Thursday night, as the South Buffalo native and Chicago Blackhawks winger won the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. The 19-year-old celebrated at the league’s annual award show with his father, Pat; mother, Donna; and three teenage sisters, Erica, Jessica and Jacqueline.

“My family has been there for me my whole life, especially my three little sisters,” Kane said in Elgin Theatre. “When I was younger, I’d go up to Toronto and they’d be forced to come with me to the tournaments. They’d bring their dolls and everything like that and have a good time, but to have them here was very special.”

Kane’s acceptance speech and post-award interviews focused on the family members who were there and the one who wasn’t. His grandfather Don was unable to make the trip.

“Since Day One, he’s been awesome,” Kane said. “Growing up I forgot my helmet at practice one time, and he had to drive back and get it. I guess he was just racing through traffic, going really fast, and when he got back I said, ‘Gramps, what took so long?’ So he was pretty mad at that.

“I think ever since then our relationship kind of developed, and he’s taught me a lot of things. His health condition isn’t really that good right now, but I’m glad he could see me win that award and dedicate it to him.”

Kane’s buddies back home also took part in the celebration, sending him 33 text messages from the podium to the interview room.

Kane received 71 of the 133 first-place votes. He also had 34 seconds and 26 thirds, giving him 1,078 points in balloting by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom was second with 872 points and Blackhawks teammate Jonathan Toews was third with 647.

Kane’s well-documented run the past two years has seen him dominate the Ontario Hockey League, represent Team USA twice and get drafted first overall. The NHL year started great with 16 points in the first month, and he had a shootout goal over boyhood idol Dominik Hasek. Kane finished with a rookie-best 72 points.

“Throughout the whole year, myself and Jonathan, we played a lot of minutes,” Kane said. “The team kind of relied on us at the end, and that’s when we realized it was a special year. You’re a young kid, only 18, 19 years old, and I wasn’t expecting too much, to be honest with you, especially the way I played in the preseason. I was terrible. It was awesome the way the season started, and I couldn’t have asked for more, I guess, from my first season.”

Kane was the only local connection to travel home with extra luggage. Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville finished third in balloting for the Lady Byng Trophy, as Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk became the first player in more than 70 years to win it three straight times.

The Lady Byng is given for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play, but Datsyuk won in a ruthless manner. The Red Wings forward earned 75 first-place votes, while no one else had more than nine. Pominville earned three first-place votes, 12 seconds, 15 thirds, 18 fourths and 10 fifths.

Datsyuk also won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as best defensive forward. If there had been an award for best interview, he’d have won that, too. He was asked how he’s spent the last week since winning the Stanley Cup.

“You’ll have to ask my wife,” Datsyuk said. “I remember coming into the party, but I don’t remember how I wake up at home.”

Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin won the night’s top honors, earning the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player and the Lester B. Pearson Award as top player in voting by his peers.

“I think I’m the happiest 22-year-old guy on the planet,” Ovechkin said. “I want to win everything, so next year maybe the Stanley Cup.”

jvogl@buffnews.com


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