KOSICE, Slovakia (AP) — Patrick Kane scored a goal and had two assists to become the United States’ all-time leading scorer at the world hockey championship in 6-3 win over Britain on Wednesday.
The three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Olympian finished the game with 36 points, surpassing the 33 points U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Johnson had at the world championships. Johnson led the Americans with 11 goals when they won Olympic gold in 1980.
“It’s special when you think of all the great American players, all the kids that grow up in the USA, dreaming of playing hockey, dreaming of playing for their country,” Kane said. “I’ve really enjoyed this tournament. This is my third time over here. It would be really nice to win it more than anything. The personal achievements and accolades are pretty nice, too.”
The Americans won bronze last year at the world championship in Denmark, where Kane had a tournament-high 20 points and was named MVP. Kane first appeared at the world championship in 2008, when the U.S. was eliminated in the quarterfinals with a loss to Finland.
Kane has helped the U.S. win three straight games in Group A since opening with a loss to the host Slovaks. The Americans have preliminary-round games remaining against Denmark, Germany and Canada.
The British Team, which returned to the top division for the first time in 25 years, had a relatively strong showing after losing to Germany by two goals and getting routed by Canada and Denmark. Mike Hammond scored late in the first period to pull Britain into a 1-all tie. The British team scored in each of the three periods against the U.S. after having only one goal and giving up 20 goals in the previous three games.
Switzerland stayed undefeated in Group B as Andreas Ambuhl scored twice in a 4-1 win over Norway. The Swiss will likely be tested as they close the preliminary round against Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic.
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After an Olympics without NHL players, the U.S. men’s hockey team brought back star power by naming the first member of its world championship team — Patrick Kane, the most accomplished player to suit up for worlds in at least a decade.
Kane, a two-time Olympian and 2010 silver medalist, was named captain for next month’s tournament in Denmark. More roster members are expected to be named later this week.
USA Hockey also named Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill as the world championship head coach, succeeding Olympic coach Tony Granato of the University of Wisconsin.
Kane and Blashill were available as their NHL teams did not make the Stanley Cup playoffs that start this week.
Kane played in one previous world championship — in 2008, following his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks when he earned the Calder Trophy. He co-led the U.S. at that world championship with 10 points.
Several players have gone more than 10 years between world championship appearances for the U.S., including Hockey Hall of Famers Mike Modano (12 years) and Phil Housley (11 years). Kane is the most accomplished American on a world championship team since Modano’s last appearance in 2005.
Blashill, coming off his third season guiding the Red Wings, was also head coach at 2017 Worlds, where the U.S. lost to Finland in the quarterfinals.
Blashill’s assistants are 2014 Olympic head coach Dan Bylsma, Don Granato (Tony’s brother and Blackhawks assistant), and Seth Appert.
The U.S. last won worlds in 1960.
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Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews offered one of the most insightful takes to date on whether the NHL should send players to the PyeongChang Olympics.
“Quite frankly, I think to turn on the Olympics next year and watch the hockey teams, the players representing their country, if it’s not the best in the world, then I don’t know, I just feel like we’re misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale and a pretty huge level,” Toews told media after the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Sunday. “A lot of the talk has been, it’s just the players that are pushing for it, it’s the players that are interested in wanting to go. I think the players do want to go, but I think it should be of interest to the players and the league. I think the NHL should be there for sure.”
Add Toews, who earned gold with Canada in 2010 and 2014, to a list of NHL superstars who have said they want to play in the Olympics. Ultimately, NHL officials will decide whether to take a break in the 2017-18 season to send players to the Olympics for a sixth straight time.
There was talk in the fall of an end-of-January deadline, but that appears out the window now. That’s no surprise, given NHL participation in Sochi wasn’t decided until July 2013.
But players can still take matters into their own hands. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has said he will play for Russia in PyeongChang regardless of if he has the NHL’s blessing, and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has supported that stance.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, the NHL points leader at the All-Star break, is hoping to go to his first Olympics in PyeongChang.
“One hundred percent, [NHL players] should go,” McDavid said. “I can’t picture the Olympics without it, to be honest.”
Sidney Crosby has been less emphatic about the NHL Olympic situation, taking a wait-and-see approach.
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