by Scott Stuccio || AHL On The Beat Archive
When the announcements were made on the ice early last spring about the Hershey Bears celebrating 75 seasons in the American Hockey League, the stands at Giant Center buzzed with excitement. First came the unveiling of the hockey club’s 75th anniversary logo. Then came the announcement that Hershey would be hosting an outdoor game right in the heart of the beautiful community.
After the Capital Blue Cross AHL Outdoor Classic was given its name, the summer continued on. But somehow fans knew that there was more to come.
A “surprise event” was held for season ticket holders on the night of Aug. 29, just after the schedule for the 2012-2013 season was released. Over 3,000 faithful fans turned out to see what the new-look Bears would be all about. Famed alumni adorned in the club’s new jerseys were on hand to talk about their time in Hershey, what it meant to wear the Bears uniform, and to welcome young and old fans alike into a new era.
The most recent addition to the celebratory campaign, the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame, was made public on October 20, the night of the Bears’ 75th home opener. The days that have passed and the days that will come until its eagerly-anticipated unveiling on December 19 include some incredible memories that will never be erased. Some were captured on DVD, some made it to video tape, and some were even plucked from film reel. Not all are in color, not all have sound. But one man who has made it into several of those video captures – all of them recent – was the subject of the jerseys worn by alumni Frederic Cassivi, Mitch Lamoureux and Dave Parro back in the late summer.
Some may not be able to rank Boyd Kane along side the all-time Bears greats. But the reality is that the team captain has been cruising past milestone after milestone, his most recent being his 300th game played wearing a Hershey sweater on Nov. 3.
“It’s definitely a huge honor to have played that many games in this organization,” Kane said. “It’s been a great five years here for me, I’ve had a lot of success and it feels like home for me.”
It will be 15 years this spring since Kane was selected by the New York Rangers in the fourth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He played four years with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford before his lone season with the Springfield Falcons in 2002-2003. It was in the following year that he would don the uniforms of the Philadelphia Phantoms and Flyers, the organization with which he would become most well-known and the one which gave him his first opportunity to play in the NHL.
Kane went on to lead the Phantoms to the Calder Cup championship in the spring of 2005. The Washington Capitals signed Kane that summer, and knew what kind of captain they were getting in Kane. The rugged winger wore the “C” for the Hershey Bears that year, and became the second player in AHL history to captain two different teams to back-to-back league championships.
Kane would spend 303 games in a Phantoms uniform. But one week ago on November 16, Kane completed his 304th game in Hershey, chalking up Chocolatetown as his longest-tenured home.
“To pass that number of games that I played in Philly, that’s pretty special,” Kane related. “This definitely feels like the place that I’ve been the longest, so it’s nice to see that number climb up. I definitely want to keep it climbing.”
The native of Swift Current, Sask., will soon find himself among more elite company. The man known as “Mr. Hershey Bears Hockey” to fans in central Pennsylvania wore the Chocolate and White 309 times. Kane will surpass that number before the turn of the month. And as he looks ahead, AHL game number 900 is also not far on the horizon – a number that, when reached, will put him among just four other Hershey Bears to grind out that many games.
Willie Marshall (1,205), Bryan Helmer (1,093), Mike Nykoluk (1,069), and Les Duff (927).
And soon, Boyd Kane.
“You look at the guys that are up there, that is definitely amazing company,” Kane said. “Some days it sure feels like it’s been that many, but I am still having a lot of fun doing it. So hopefully I can keep doing it.”
As well-known as he has been as a grinder and a tough opponent, Kane has become that much more appreciated for his work for charity. For every year that has passed, he and his wife Sharlene have done something different to make their efforts for the Hershey community that much more special. Kane’s most famous undertaking is the organizing of monthly visits to the young patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Most recently, he and the Bears dressed in pink to promote the Bears’ Pink the Rink Night for Breast Cancer Awareness, coming up on Sunday, November 25. As a devoted husband and father, in addition to playing the game, it is the best part of his routine.
“Well the older you get, the more you realize that you can give back to a community. You have a great chance being a pro hockey player, and especially in an area like this that embraces its team so well. I have to give a lot of credit to my wife as she does a lot of the organizing, especially when we’re away. She’s a creative one. I’m a middle man that brings the guys all together, and it is never too hard to do.”
With that kind of attitude and commitment, don’t be surprised if you hear Kane’s name come up as one subject for a future class in the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame.