Patrick Kane wants to end the United States men’s national hockey team’s 40-year drought and win Olympic gold.
The Blackhawks right wing could have his chance to do so in 2022 when NHL players are expected to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2014. Participation is pending an agreement between the NHL, NHL Players’ Association, International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation. NHL player participation in the Olympics was part of the four-year extension of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement that was ratified by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA on July 6.
“It’s great, it’s exciting,” Kane said Friday about NHL players returning to the Olympics. “You look at the Olympics, it’s something the Americans haven’t [won] in a long time.”
The United States has won Olympic gold in men’s hockey twice in 1960 and 1980. The Americans took silver in 2002 and 2010 after losing to rival Canada in gold-medal games.
Kane represented the U.S. at the Olympics in 2010 and 2014. He scored five points (three goals, two assists) in six games in 2010 in Vancouver, where the Americans fell 3-2 in overtime to Canada in the gold-medal game. In 2014 in Sochi, he had four assists in six contests and missed two penalty shots in a 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game.
With the Olympics not on the table for NHL players in 2018, the men’s World Championship became the premier senior-level international tournament with players whose NHL teams didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs or were eliminated participating. Kane’s 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) the past two years at Worlds made him the U.S.’ all-time leading scorer in tournament history with 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in only 25 games. The Team USA captain led the 2018 edition with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 games to earn most valuable player honors.
The Buffalo, New York native has won three medals with Team USA: gold at the 2006 under-18 World Juniors, and bronze at the 2007 U20 WJC and 2018 mens’ Worlds, but is still chasing Olympic gold.
“Hopefully, [I] can fight for a roster spot to get on that [Olympic] team and try to do something special,” said Kane, who will be 33 years old when the 2022 Olympics are scheduled to start Feb. 4 in Beijing, China. “It would be unbelievable to bring an Olympic gold back to the U.S. and say you did that and be part of a team like that.”
Kane isn’t the only Blackhawks player who is excited about NHL players returning to the Olympics. Winger Alex DeBrincat played on the same line as Kane at each of the past two Worlds and scored nine points each time. The Farmington Hills, Michigan native had one goal and eight assists in 10 games in 2018 then had seven goals and two assists in eight games in 2019.
“For me, growing up watching the Olympics the NHL players were always allowed to go so it was fun to watch them in a different setting,” DeBrincat said Wednesday. “I think it definitely grows the game, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for a lot of guys to go over and represent [their] country. It’s a really good thing for [NHL players].”
DeBrincat, who has scored 87 goals in his first three NHL seasons, was viewed as a potential extra skater for Team USA’s 2022 roster by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. Below is Kaplan’s projected forward lineup with players’ current NHL team and ages as of the 2022 Olympics.
“You look at the Americans, we’ve got a lot of young talent,” Kane said. “A lot of guys in a couple years that’ll be even better than they are now so it looks like the future is bright for USA Hockey.”