BUFFALO, N.Y. - Plenty has happened to Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane since his summertime taxicab troubles in Buffalo.
A changed man, Kane returned to his hometown on Friday for Chicago's game against the Sabres, getting an assist in as the visiting Blackhawks fell 2-1.
Before the game, Kane didn't avoid questions regarding his well-publicized altercation with a cab driver in August.
Kane pleaded guilty more than three months ago to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct and was ordered to send an apology to the cab driver he and his cousin were accused of roughing up over 20 cents.
"When it happened it just felt like it was a dream that you never wake up from. You keep thinking you're going to wake up and you never do," Kane said Friday. "I've tried to put it behind me as best I could. It's helped me grow up a little bit, and it makes you more mature."
Kane believes he's still a happy-go-lucky kid, on and off the ice. But he says he's more aware of the ramifications of any unfortunate actions and has learned some lessons from the incident.
"I'm trying to take the positive from a negative situation and try (to think) that maybe it's better it happened sooner in life than later in your life," he said. "No one's perfect. Look what's going on in the news these days with Tiger Woods and things like that. When things were happening to me, I remember Rick Pitino was going through some trouble, and Michael Vick."
It's been a whirlwind four months for the 21-year-old Kane, who subsequently signed a US$31.5-million, five-year contract extension, and become a lock to make the U.S. Olympic team that will be announced on Jan. 1. He's realized that stardom comes with a price, but it's not so steep as to send his career into a spiral.
In his first game in Buffalo in Dec. 2007, the Sabres honoured him with a pre-game video presentation and a ceremonial face-off. Kane isn't sure what reaction he'll get this time after the dispute with the cabbie.
"I'm not too concerned," he said. "I think it'll be a little different. I'm interested to see what happens. Half the people love you, half the people hate you ... that's just the way it is."