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Eight days earlier Kane and his cousin James had been arrested by Buffalo police at 5 a.m. for allegedly roughing up a cab driver who said he couldn't produce proper change—in this case, 20 cents. They eventually pleaded guilty to a noncriminal charge of disorderly conduct and were ordered to write an apology to the cabbie.
"Everyone was telling me, you know, you can't say anything to the media," Kane recalls. "Just lay low. Don't say anything. Don't tell them the whole incident and everything."
But it wasn't easy to stay quiet when he saw his mug shot popping up on gossip websites and the Internet peanut gallery began calling him 20 Cent. "I just wanted to tell my side of the story, which I never really have and probably never will," he says. Then he pauses before saying, "But it's over now."
"It's funny. People ask me [if Kane has matured this year] all the time, but I think he's always been a pretty mature kid," Burish says. "He had an incident this summer, but you know what? There's always more to the story, and he was pretty mature to not go out and talk about it.... To go out and spout off to the media—Well, this isn't what happened. This is what happened—it wouldn't do any good, and he understood that."
In the weeks following the incident Kane found release at the gym. "I remember right after, I was just like, I've got to work off some steam," he says. He followed his preseason exercise program, but tacked on an extra hour just to "pump things out of my body," he says. "And to be honest with you, it kind of helped me because when I came back for the season, I was just like, ready to go."
Kane put on about 15 pounds during the off-season, weighing in at 178 at the beginning of training camp, and teammates immediately noticed his improved power. "He's stronger and a better skater this year than he was last year," defenseman Brian Campbell says. "His strength in getting away from guys is better."
"His game has become more well-rounded," says third-line winger Kris Versteeg. "Last year you never really quite knew at times if he was going to get his butt back, but he definitely does it now. He knows what it takes to be good at both ends."
The new and improved Kane enjoyed a breakout performance at the Olympics in February. Despite being the youngest member of Team USA, he swaggered into Vancouver and had a tournament to remember, scoring two goals in the 6--1 semifinal win over Finland and assisting on Zach Parise's tying goal in the waning seconds of the gold medal match against Canada.
Before each game in Vancouver he would skate to the bench during pregame warmups, lay his gloves along the dasher boards and squirt water on his face. From the bench, Team USA equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, whose day job is with the Flyers, would ask him, "You ready, big boy?"
Looking up with a grin as he slid on his gloves, Kane would answer, "Showtime!"