Patrick Kane thinks Ryan Kesler is a good guy.
What in the name of Dino Ciccarelli is going on?
So much for old-time hockey, eh? You wouldn't have heard Denis Savard call Ciccarelli a good guy 25 years ago when the Hawks-North Stars rivalry was at its peak on the hatred scale.
But things change and today there just isn't the same level of dislike among teams in the NHL. The players all make a lot of money, they share agents and are union brothers.
Kane got to know the Canucks' Kesler over the last few weeks as teammates on the U.S. Olympic hockey team, seeing the other side of the guy who called Andrew Ladd a coward after they fought in the last Hawks-Vancouver game on Jan. 23.
Kesler hadn't forgotten the hit he took from Ladd in last spring's playoffs that left him with a broken nose.
"He's a good guy," Kane said following Friday's morning skate. "All hockey guys are like that off the ice. It seems like we all get along off the ice, but on the ice it's just another rivalry and a different story.
"I'm sure it will be the same way playing against him as it was before. That's the way you play hockey. Me and (Jonathan) Toews were chirping at each other on the ice when we played Canada. I sat next to (Kesler) in the locker room. I know him a bit now and he seems like an all right guy. At the same time we're enemies now, we're on different teams and I probably don't have to see him now for another four years."
Ladd was focusing more on playing the Canucks Friday night than dealing with Kesler.
"I'm not really worried about him," Ladd said. "We haven't been playing well for the last little while ands this is a good chance to get back on track."
Kesler became annoyed when asked what he expected from Ladd.
“Not much out of the ordinary,” Kesler said. “I don’t think he’s going to take it any farther, that’s just the player he is.
“I’m not calling him a coward either. You guys like to twist my words a lot.”
But Kesler did call Ladd a coward.
“Yeah, I did, but right there I didn’t just call him that,” Kesler said to those reporters gathered around his locker on Friday morning. “He’s a hard-nosed player that plays the same every night. I’m not calling him a coward. The media always turns people’s words around. It drives me nuts.
“He broke my nose (in the playoffs), but that’s done. He fought me (in January) and what’s done is done.”
Cristobal Huet gets the start in goal for the Hawks while John Madden and Brent Sopel return from sitting out Wednesday's win over Edmonton.