The most moving moments for Patrick Kane came in the pregame warmup and player introductions, which is an indication of how things went on his first night playing for Rangers. Kane skated on the ice at Madison Square Garden about a half hour before the opening matchup Thursday, and fans greeted him with a standing ovation, showing their appreciation and cheering his every move until he skated.
“It’s a special place to play,” Kane said after the game. “The original Six franchise, the New York Rangers, playing at MSG. And getting a reception like that, is something I’ll never forget.”
Kane said that his new Ranger teammates had whispered to him before the game, letting him know what they knew was coming. Even opposing senators from Ottawa, like former game ranger Derick Brassard, noted the enthusiastic reception while warming up on the other end of the ice.
“It was great for us to see the standing ovation he got in warm-ups,” said Brassard, who played his 1,000th game. “It’s going to take some time for them to get the chemistry together.”
Kane, 34, is the latest superstar to join the Blueshirts in his 30s or late 20s, joining a roster that includes Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Jaromir Jagr, Luc Robitaille and Phil Esposito.
But on a night that was supposed to celebrate the arrival of this new Ranger, an old Ranger spoiled the festivities when Brassard scored twice in the Senators’ 5-3 win over the Rangers, somewhat spoiling the high expectations.
Kane looked a bit flustered or rusty at times, flipping the puck over or failing to corner him as skillfully as he normally does. He sometimes turned down open shots in favor of an extra pass, much to the dismay of fans, who yelled at him to shoot when he had room.
But with 446 goals and 779 assists in 1,162 career games, Kane is as much a playmaker as he is a scorer, as adept with the puck in his stick as anyone in the past 16 seasons, since he was drafted No. 1 overall. for Chicago in 2007 and emerged as one of the greatest American-born players in NHL history
It’s been a brilliant career to date, with three Stanley Cup championships, a Calder Trophy for the league’s best rookie and a Hart Trophy for its most valuable player in 2016 when he became the first American to win that award.
“I think our team loves to have him,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Too bad it didn’t go well tonight, but he’s a great addition to our group.”
The Rangers acquired Kane from Chicago in a three-team deal with Arizona on Tuesday that didn’t cost them much. Chicago got minor leaguer Andy Welinski a conditional second-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2025, and the Coyotes got a conditional third-round pick in 2025.
In return, the Rangers got a legend. After playing his entire career in Chicago, Kane got fed up with the rebuild and wanted to be a Ranger. Since Chicago last won the Stanley Cup in 2015, they have either lost in the first round of the playoffs or missed out entirely. It looks like the Rangers are heading in the right direction.
As with most teams and their fans, the Rangers love megastars, and some fans were already wearing new Ranger jerseys featuring Kane’s No. 1. 88 and his name. Jack Walsh, 30, an accountant originally from Albany, said he bought his jersey Wednesday at the NHL store in Manhattan. As a resident of upstate New York, he has long admired Kane, who is from Buffalo.
“It’s amazing that he’s here,” Walsh said. “I hope it works. But you never know.”
The loss was a bit sobering for fans. But the trade wasn’t a one-night stand, and Kane walked out of the building feeling good, knowing that he was finally a Ranger, and that once he finds chemistry with his new teammates in the coming weeks, the wins are likely to follow. .
“It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight,” he said, “but we’ll find it.”
He doesn’t have much time. The Rangers, sixth in the Eastern Conference, have 20 games to play in the regular season, and if anything, Kane’s Game 1 loss provided a small measure of caution to the euphoria over his early arrival. NHL trade limit on Friday
It appeared that the trade, which seemed months in the making, might not happen after the Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues on February 9. It was then that Kane’s interest in the Rangers became apparent, as he publicly lamented that Tarasenko was heading to New York instead of him.
“It wasn’t like he was extremely angry about the situation when they made the move for Tarasenko,” Kane said Thursday morning after a brief skid. “It didn’t seem like it was still in the cards to continue being an option for me. Now obviously I’m very happy that they made that move and we’re both here. I’m excited to play with Vladdy.”
There is hope that Kane will reunite with Artemi Panarin, his former linemate in Chicago when Panarin played there from 2015-17. Kane won the Hart Trophy in their first year together and Panarin won the Calder. Gallant had them on the same line again on Thursday, and even amid the rust flakes, there were also moments of telepathy across the ice.
The Rangers, who have lost five of their last seven games, figure they are now much better positioned to challenge the mighty Boston Bruins in the East. Boston leads the league with 48 wins and has won its last nine games. The teams will meet on Saturday afternoon in Boston as the Rangers look to resurrect their playoff ambition.
Kane and Tarasenko are now a big part of that ambition, and that has got Rangers fans excited. But there is another side to trading. Many Chicago fans were sad to see Kane go. A handful showed up at the Garden on Thursday in their red sweaters with Kane’s name and number on them, including Melanie DeCaprio, a nurse from suburban New Haven and a longtime Kane fan.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “When I first saw him on the ice, my stomach dropped. I’m glad I can go see him play more often. But it’s hard to see him with another shirt.”