Patrick Kane arrived at Johnny's IceHouse West on Wednesday determined to push through the jet lag and join his Blackhawks teammates on the ice for practice.
Anything to help him progress from a difficult month.
Kane's grandfather died Feb. 3. Then he endured a "disappointing" Olympic tournament, as he put it, in which his U.S. team failed to win a medal.
But Kane was upbeat and optimistic as the Blackhawks prepared to resume their regular season schedule Thursday on the road against the Rangers.
"I'm actually, if you can believe it, excited where my game is and where I can improve and get better," he said.
Kane had no goals and four assists in six Olympic games, but that's behind him now. The Hawks' points leader (63) is intent on helping them thrive in the 22-game sprint to the playoffs and earn home-ice advantage.
"The consistency is the best we've seen," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had an outstanding start, but game in, game out he has been very effective, whether his production is high or not in games, he has the puck a lot. He's doing a lot of good things to control (his) shifts and generating some stuff offensively.
"Defensively, he has improved his game. It has been a good year for us for evaluating his game. To produce at that rate all year long is a pretty tough challenge. We're expecting him to contribute in a lot of ways."
Gang's all here: Forwards Patrick Sharp and Marcus Kruger and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya also rejoined the team Wednesday for practice, while captain Jonathan Toews watched. Defenseman Duncan Keith planned to meet the Hawks at the airport for their flight east.
Gold thief: Sharp temporarily has relinquished the gold medal he earned with Team Canada.
"My daughter has it now - Madelyn," he said with a smile. "My wife told my daughter the whole time I was (gone) that dad's bringing a shiny necklace home for you. She has been playing with it ever since.
How will Sharp reclaim it?
"I'll take it when she's sleeping," he said.
One-timers: Peter Regin centered the second line with Kane during Wednesday's practice, as expected. Kane missed Regin's first and only game with the Hawks on Feb. 7 to attend his grandfather's funeral. "He seems very skilled just with little plays, how to draw defensemen's sticks in and get the puck to you with a little bit more time and space," Kane said. ... The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Brian Connelly from the Wild for forward Brad Winchester. Connelly will report to Rockford of the AHL. Connelly played for Rockford for parts of four seasons from 2009-12 but never played for the Blackhawks.
Chicago Tribune reporter Chris Hine contributed to this report.