08/13/2010 10:46 PM
- From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With his mother and three sisters essentially walking emotional wrecks and his father pretty close to losing it too, a stoic Patrick Kane walked the halls of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and tried his best to make his visit with the Stanley Cup as comfortable as possible for all of the patients undergoing treatment.
Kane, though, was anything but comfortable. He presented himself that way, but inside his heart was hurting and his mind racing, especially as he tried to get through his last encounter with a patient.
"He said it was his dying wish to see the Cup," Kane told NHL.com in a private interview roughly an hour after his visit to the cancer institute Friday. "I was like, 'Oh man.' It was really tough to think about."
So, how does a 21-year-old, a superstar with the world at his fingertips and millions headed into his bank account, handle it when real life smacks him square in the face?
"To be honest, I was just trying to make it as comfortable as possible," Kane said. "I talked to him about the Stanley Cup, about everything but, you know. He said this was his best day in a while. He said he was going to rub the Cup for good luck and hopefully things change. It was tough, but he was in such a good mood and took everything so well. Then, there was his daughter and she was just balling her eyes out. It was pretty emotional. It hit the heart.
"It was pretty tough, but I'm really glad I did it."
Kane admitted that he went from euphoria to sorrow in a matter of minutes Friday.
His first stop on his Cup tour through his home region was at Niagara Falls, where he took the Cup to the Hurricane Deck at Cave of the Winds and held it high over his heads with the water powerfully falling behind him. It was a picturesque moment as Kane invited his family and friends to join him on the deck for photos. It was described by one park worker as "magical." Kane called it "a rush," and said it ranks "right up there, man" with all he's accomplished and done this past year.
On his way to the cancer institute, Kane said his friends were dancing on the private limo bus that was escorting him around via a police escort. They were laughing it up, having a blast, doing what they were supposed to be doing on this day of celebration.
Then, everything changed when Kane's caravan pulled into the parking lot at Roswell. Without any media following him, Kane and his family started to privately visit with patients.
"We were on such a high note of the day, everyone was on the bus, dancing, having a good old time with the Cup on the bus and then you walk into Roswell and it's a totally different thing," Kane said. "You come back on the bus and these guys, my friends, they didn't go through Roswell like I did, but they were doing the same thing, dancing on the bus. I'm just like, 'This is so different now.' You really feel how lucky you are to be in the situation you are, not only as a hockey player and an athlete, but just as a regular person for your health and the health of your family and friends."
"There were a couple of times that I could have broken down. I was just trying to hold it in, I guess."
Kane's father, Pat Sr., told NHL.com he noticed several times when his son was doing his best to hold himself together. It wasn't easy with his mother, Donna, and his sisters, Erica, Jessica and Jacqueline, all crying.
"With experience and Pat growing up he has learned to become so strong," Pat Sr. said.
"I think for him he was so happy to be able to provide a good day and a fun moment for the patients there," Donna told NHL.com. "I think sometimes you have to keep your emotions in check because that projects onto them. He wanted to bring happiness to them today, and that was the sentiment from the patients. What a happy day. This is the best day I've had in a long time."
Kane said he was taken by all of the children.
"They're all special," he said. "And, they're all awesome."
He visited with as many as he could, and gave each of them personalized hats with his initials, P.K. emblazoned on as the logo. He signed the hats and took pictures with the kids and the Cup.
"I know from being with Pat throughout the years when he's excited about an event, and this event he was totally focused on and he was so into it," Pat Sr. said.
"The kids walking in, they're heads are shaved and they just got the smile from ear to ear that it's really crazy to see," Kane added. "I'm really happy I came here and gave back to the kids that wanted to see the Cup."
Dr. Donald L. Trump, the President and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said Kane's appearance provided the biggest buzz he has seen in the hospital in his tenure there.
"I think an illustration of what it does is just the passion, energy and noise that you saw in the atrium of our hospital when Patrick showed the Stanley Cup to the populous," Dr. Trump said. "We have had lots of events in the atrium and there were 10 times more people there for this than we ever get. That's one measure of it.
"It's also absolutely true, as Patrick himself said, that there are a lot of kids and adults who are going through some hard times at Roswell that if he had gone downtown to show the Stanley Cup they wouldn't have seen it. The fact he came directly to these folks so they could see such an important icon in sports lore is a terrific opportunity for our patients and staff."
From Roswell, Kane's caravan took him to a fun meeting with dozens of local iron workers. They were hooting and hollering as they celebrated with Buffalo's new favorite son. He also met with fire and police officials, played a floor hockey game with his buddies for the Cup, and had a private party at a banquet hall in Cheektowaga, N.Y.
But, the visit to the cancer institute, meeting those patients and granting one man his dying wish, those all might be the truly lasting memories from his time with the Stanley Cup.
"He was humbled and he did appreciate the positive energy and the impact he was having on people," Dr. Trump added. "He seems like the type of young man that can take that, process that into a way that is really important for him, for Buffalo, and for his future. It says a lot about him to be able to interact the way he did. He touched a lot of sick kids, sick people, and linked them to a highlight in his life."