Patrick Kane is back for the Chicago Blackhawks. The superstar winger confirmed Tuesday that he'll be in the lineup for Game 1 of the team's first-round series against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday after recovering from a collarbone injury that was expected to keep him out much longer.
"I think we're at the point now where it's safe to go out there and compete," Kane told Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times after practice Tuesday. He also brought the news to Twitter himself:
Great to be back for the playoffs. Thank you to all the great fans for the many well wishes over the last seven weeks!— Patrick Kane (@88PKane) April 14, 2015
A leading MVP candidate when he suffered a broken collarbone on Feb. 24, Kane was expected to be out up to 12 weeks at the time. Minnesota's Jason Zucker returned several weeks early from a similar injury this year and now Kane will do the same to try to lead the Hawks to their third Stanley Cup in six years.
It's hard to express what Kane means to this team when he's healthy and rolling. There are few players in the league as dynamic on the offensive end, and he immediately makes this series against Nashville that much more winnable with his presence. Whether Kane is 100 percent or not is hard to say -- he has only participated in two full-contact practices -- but if doctors have fully cleared him and he says he's good to go, we should feel pretty optimistic.
He's even got the mullet ready:
Patrick Kane on the mullet: "It’s kind of like one of those things I have to do for playoffs now, not just for myself, but for the team."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 14, 2015
This is great news. The Blackhawks are fully loaded for the playoffs.