Rangers and Patrick Kane excited to prove championship aspirations aren’t misguided

Patrick Kane introduced as a member of the Rangers
Patrick Kane is unveiled as the newest member of the New York Rangers
Nick Faria – AMNY

Months of planning and aspirations have come down to this. A simple regular season Rangers contest against the Senators Thursday night has transformed into a must-see television with the unveiling of Patrick Kane as the newest member of the Blueshirts.

Amidst all the conversations, trade discussions, and excitement, it’s finally time to see how the three-time Stanley Cup Champion fits in with his new teammates, and if he can deliver a championship to New York. In his first conversation with reporters and prior to his debut in a Rangers uniform, Kane was clear with his goals. 

“I’m here for the experience and to play with good players and for this organization, but really when it comes down to it, you’re here to win, right?” Kane explained Thursday afternoon. 

Heightened expectations aren’t new to Kane, but they’ve certainly grown for the Rangers since the team acquired both the former Blackhawk and former Blues standout, Vladimir Tarasenko. But it was the Tarasenko trade that almost put to rest any idea of Kane being a New York Ranger.

Following news of the Tarasenko trade last month, Kane made comments that appeared to suggest he wasn’t thrilled that the Blue Shirts had acquired the winger because it looked like it would impact their ability to add him as well. Kane pushed back a little on that notion on Thursday.  

“I think sometimes comments get overblown a little bit. It wasn’t like I was extremely mad about the situation when they made the move for Tarasenko. It just didn’t seem like it was in the cards to still be an option for me.” Kane explained after comments of wanting to be a Ranger were made public after the trade. “So now obviously, I’m very happy they made that move. I’m excited to play with Vladdy. I think he’s an amazing player. I’m happy we’re both on the same side.”

The combination of Tarasenko and Kane has transformed the Rangers from a good to a great team on paper with expectations soaring. For the Rangers as a group though, they understand that proving how good they are will be the focus for the remainder of the regular season. 

“(Kane) makes our team a lot deeper. There’s a lot of skill and a lot of talent but you have to do it on the ice.” head coach Gerard Gallant said Wednesday after the trade was finalized. 

This isn’t the first time the Rangers and their front office have used trade deadline deals to improve the roster drastically. In the 2021-22 season, general manager Chris Drury added Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano to bolster a loaded club to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

The skillset of Tarasenko and Kane may be greater than Copp and Vatrano, but that doesn’t mean the results will end up being the same. 

“It definitely feels different,” Gallant said. “But we had some great results last year with those guys. They weren’t superstar names but they were all guys that fit into our team really well. … We added these types of players like the Tarasenko’s and Kane’s that are really good hockey players. Again, let’s get it done on the ice. We have 22 games left and hopefully, we’ll play well and get into the playoffs.”

The addition of Kane also reunites two former teammates from the Windy City, 

Artemi Panarin had played with Kane in his first two years in Chicago, where he won the Calder Trophy and was named an All-Star. Now back together again, the potential is certainly there to recreate the magic that was Panarin’s early start. 

FILE – Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Denver. The New York Rangers acquired Kane in a trade with the Blackhawks on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, reuniting the star winger with former teammate Artemi Panarin and stamping the Blueshirts as a Stanley Cup contender in the loaded Eastern Conference. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)AP Photos

“Today’s the first time I’ve seen him in a long time. Just being able to be around him, I’ve definitely missed that over the last five, six, seven years. Just picked up right where we left off.” said Kane on being reunited with Panarin. “I think the success we had was obviously short-lived for only two years so definitely excited to play with him again.”

But the idea that the two will be able to mimic the results from over eight years ago isn’t something that is guaranteed by either player. 

“It’s possible. I don’t know if he can. I don’t want to say anything too early. Sometimes when I say things too early we don’t play good,” Panarin said with a laugh after the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime win over the Flyers on Wednesday. 

As a three-time champion, even Kane understands that there is still work to be done to make the Rangers the championship contender that everyone expects them to be now. But while the former Blackhawk understands his time with New York might not “start off as smooth,” the idea of being involved with the Rangers organization was too great an opportunity to pass up.

“You go back and forth in your head a bunch of times to figure out what is right. But I just feel like this is such an amazing opportunity with what they have going on here in New York. When the option was still there to make the move, it wasn’t the easiest decision but just really excited to be here.”

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