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Kane to sign with Red Wings

New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates against the New Jersey Devils in the first period of Game 3 of the team’s NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. Patrick Kane is signing with the Detroit Red Wings, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.(AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

Patrick Kane is joining the Detroit Red Wings for the rest of the season, choosing the championship-rich franchise over other suitors for the four-time All-Star’s return to the NHL from hip surgery.

A person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Kane has agreed to a contract worth a prorated $2.75 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Kane has not yet signed the contract, which will pay him just over $2 million in actual dollars.

Kane, who turned 35 on Nov. 19, was an unrestricted free agent rehabbing from hip resurfacing surgery in June. He has been skating since August and told the AP in September that he was starting to feel like his old self again.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion with Chicago and 2016 league MVP chose Detroit over a handful of other interested teams, including his hometown Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the reigning Eastern Conference champion Florida Panthers.

After the Blackhawks and New York Rangers he joined after a pre-deadline trade, the Red Wings are set to become Kane’s third Original Six team.

Kane is attempting to become only the third player to come back to the NHL from the invasive hip operation, following defenseman Ed Jovanovski and center Nicklas Backstrom.

Jovanovski played only 37 games afterward, and Backstrom recently stepped away from the Washington Capitals 47 games into his attempt amid concerns about how his artificial left hip was holding up, with a return this season unlikely.

The surgery, which tennis star Andy Murray also had, involves dislocating the upper end of the thighbone, trimming it, capping it and removing cartilage before putting it back in place.

Kane’s expected recovery and rehab time was set at four to six months.

Adding Kane is another potential boost for general manager Steve Yzerman’s Red Wings, who are 11-6-3 through 20 games and currently are in a playoff position in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Detroit, which won the Stanley Cup 11 times between 1936-2008, is trying to end a seven-year postseason drought that stands as the franchise’s longest since the 1970s.

The hope is Kane can return to the All-Star form he displayed before the nagging hip injury began hampering his play. He had 92 points in 78 games as recently as the 2021-22 season, and his 1,237 over his career are the second-most among U.S.-born players.

It’s unclear when Kane will be cleared to play his first game for the Red Wings, though his camp’s plan since the surgery involved waiting until he was fully healthy before picking a destination.

Kane was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft and helped the Blackhawks hoist the Cup in 2010, ’13 and ’15. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2013.

With Chicago in a rebuilding phase and nearing the end of his eight-year, $84 million contract, Kane last season became the top player available by trade and with a full no-movement clause could call his shot.

Kane went to the Rangers and had six points in their seven-game first-round series loss to rival New Jersey.

Kane had similar control as a free agent, letting the market and the first month of the season play out before talking to interested teams.

Rather than the true homecoming of returning to his native Buffalo, he picked another familiar spot in Detroit, 20 years after playing a season of junior hockey in suburban Farmington Hills, Michigan, and then with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Plymouth.

Not getting Kane, the Sabres will continue their attempt to end a league-worst 12-season playoff drought with the young talent they’ve already assembled.

Buffalo’s roster includes up-and-coming young star centers Tage Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt and defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power.

Kane would need to get up to NHL speed quickly to play in Buffalo as a visitor next week. His first game at Chicago would be Feb. 25, after he did not face the Blackhawks following the trade to New York.

The Red Wings and Blackhawks were longtime, bitter rivals until Detroit was shifted from the Western to the Eastern Conference in 2013 as part of realignment.

Kane follows a similar path to the player he’s chasing for the U.S. scoring record: Mike Modano, who played 20 seasons for the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars before finishing his career with the Red Wings.

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