NEW YORK — New York Rangers fans roared whenever Patrick Kane appeared on the video board. They cheered when he was announced in the starting lineup. They gasped when he would stickhandle through the Ottawa Senators‘ defense.
Kane appreciated those reactions on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, making his Rangers debut after they acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. He said he just wishes the results could have been different, for himself and the team in its 5-3 loss to the Senators.
“My first game as a Ranger was a pretty cool experience. Obviously, I would’ve liked to play a little bit better and come out with the win. But hopefully it’ll come. I haven’t played in a little bit. Maybe a little bit rusty,” Kane said.
It was Kane’s first game since Feb. 22, when he left a Blackhawks road trip in preparation for a trade to the Rangers, for whom he waived his no-movement clause. He played 16 years and won three Stanley Cups in Chicago, arriving in New York with a wave of expectations and hype. Retail stores inside MSG had sold out of adult-sized Kane jerseys nearly an hour before puck drop.
The 34-year-old star winger didn’t tally a point in 19:36 of ice time. He took four shots on goal and was on the ice for three Ottawa goals. Perhaps the most glaring example of his rust and inexperience with his new teammates was on the power play, where Kane played 5:58 of the Rangers’ 11 minutes with the man advantage. They went 0-for-4, including a five-minute major power play in the first period.
“They haven’t given me too much. Just telling me to go out there and play. It’ll be nice to settle in and play a little bit better for my teammates,” said Kane, who said his nerves disappeared quickly once the game started.
Kane noted that the Rangers have a “pretty big game” Saturday against the Boston Bruins (1 p.m. ET, ABC) but then have four days off before their next game. He’s hoping to use that time to better acclimate himself to the team and his teammates.
That includes his former Blackhawks teammate Artemi Panarin, who starred with Kane from 2015 to ’17. The two were reunited on the same line against the Senators and saw time on the power play together. Kane said before the game that it might take a while to rekindle the magic he had with Panarin in Chicago.
“You try to remember your roots and everything. It’s a chemistry we had six or seven years ago. I don’t think that’s going to happen overnight, but we’ll find it,” Kane said.
Panarin and Kane were the last two Rangers players in warmups. During his time with the Blackhawks, Kane was famously superstitious about being the last player to leave the ice. But with the Rangers, it’s Panarin who ritualistically leaves the ice last.
After the two stayed out there for a while together, Kane relented and skated off the ice second to last. Panarin exited soon after.
“Yeah, it’s his team,” Kane said with a laugh. “We’ll let him have that honor.”
Kane handed a puck to his 2-year-old son, who was being held by his partner, Amanda Grahovec, and gave him a fist-bump as he left the ice. While it wasn’t a memorable night for the Rangers, it will be one Kane never forgets.
“It’s a special place to play. It’s an Original Six franchise. Playing in MSG and you get a reception like that? It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said.