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Patrick Kane’s unofficial rookie card

The Chicago Blackhawks star was 6 years old when he appeared as a fan on a Sylvain Turgeon card

Patrick Kane is one of the greatest American-born NHL players of all time and has established himself as a household name. Kane was the first overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2007 NHL Draft and has lived up to the lofty expectations that accompany that draft position. It was Kane who ended the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals in overtime when he slid the puck under the pads of Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, ending the Blackhawks’ 49-year championship drought.

Sylvain Turgeon is a name that many hockey fans might not recognize. The Quebec-born player played 669 games in the NHL for four teams but never had anywhere near the same success that Patrick Kane did. In fact, the only accolade the two share is both were named to their respective All-Rookie Teams.

Amazingly, these two players are linked through a special card that was made of Turgeon as part of the 1994-95 Pinnacle Hockey set when he was playing for the Ottawa Senators. What seems like a common card that pictures Turgeon fighting for the puck against two members of the Buffalo Sabres – Dale Hawerchuck and Doug Bogder – actually has a very unique feature, upon closer inspection.

A Sylvain Turgeon 1994-95 card shows a 6-year-old Patrick Kane as a fan. 

A Sylvain Turgeon 1994-95 card shows a 6-year-old Patrick Kane as a fan. 

Sitting in his father’s lap and wearing a Sabres jersey with a “C” sown onto the chest is a young Patrick Kane, and he has a smile on his face stretching ear to ear. As Kane said to the Chicago Tribune in 2018, “You could look at that picture and I’m just a young kid looking up at some hockey players, like any young kid would.”

The card has taken on a new life since the discovery of Kane and has become a favorite of hockey collectors everywhere and for good reason. It’s not often that you find a card with such a special feature as this one. The look on Kane’s face tells it all, and it is obvious how amazed he is with the game right in front of him. The card, referred to by some as Kane’s unofficial rookie card, shows the moment a hockey legend was created and for that reason, it is sought by card fans.

The Card’s Humble Beginnings

Not many NHL superstars can say they were on their first hockey card at the young age of 6 but then again, not a lot of hockey players are like Patrick Kane. Kane grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and his father had season tickets for the Sabres.

Patrick Kane Sr. told the Chicago Tribune that he used to bring his son to games and sit him on his lap so that the extra ticket could go to a family member or friend: “They were allowing me to carry Patrick in there until he was 7 or 8. Right before we went in the gate, I would pick him up just to get another person in, whether it was my brother, my wife, two of the other kids or a friend.”

Maybe Kane being exposed to such high-level hockey at such a young age helped his development into the goal-scoring terror he is today. Whether you believe that or not, one can’t deny that the wide-eyed kid in the front row looks like he is having the time of his life.

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The 1994-95 Pinnacle Sylvain Turgeon was not on anyone’s radar as a card to keep, but as a young Kane was rising through the ranks of junior hockey, any lucky collectors who could have put the puzzle pieces together could have been rewarded handsomely. But it took a while for anyone to spot the young superstar in the background. As he told the Chicago Tribune, Patrick Kane Sr. was sorting mail on a Saturday at his work – a Jeep dealership located in Buffalo – when he opened a letter that contained a copy of the card and a note explaining the card.

The story goes that upon discovering that his son’s first hockey cards were not made when he entered the NHL, but rather when he was still just 6 years old, Kane Sr. sent a salesman from his dealership to a local card store to inquire about buying more copies of the card. While highly graded versions of the card have fetched over $100 today, at the time, when very few people knew it was Kane in the photo, the card was very cheap. The salesman was able to buy 10 copies for just one dollar. Today those 10 cards are surely worth a lot more. On eBay, they could be found in the $40 to $60 range, depending on the grade. One online site was selling an authenticated autographed card for $695.

A Star in the Making

One thing Patrick Kane Sr. pointed out about the card is what little Patrick Kane is doing. As Pat Kane Sr. told CBS Sports in early 2014, “He is 5 or 6 years old, and what we notice is that he is not eating popcorn, not eating ice cream, he’s not dillydallying. He is watching the game.”

In fact, Kane does have a very focused look on his face, and maybe it is an early sign of the focus and determination that would help him reach the pinnacle of the sport. Watch Kane play for even just one shift and the first thing that will stand out is his unbelievable skills. The way he stickhandles the puck, uses his edgework, and deftly dekes an opponent reeks of someone who has been practicing these moves from the moment he could walk.

Kane is talented beyond belief and is one of the most exciting players who has touched the ice in recent memory. Alongside Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, Kane helped the Blackhawks become a de-facto post-lockout dynasty as the team managed to win three Stanley Cups in a six-year period during the early 2000s. He managed to pick up one Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013, awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and has won almost every possible piece of individual hardware.

Patrick Kane during first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Patrick Kane during first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Overall, the fact Kane is on this card is amazing and the odds of it happening were very low. Not only is he in the photo, but he’s depicted clearly and the expression on his face is one that hockey fans everywhere can relate to. He has a look of pure amazement as he gets to watch his heroes up close, and it elevates what would normally be a common card into a special piece of hockey history.

While for some professional athletes being upstaged by a child on one of your trading cards may be embarrassing, for Sylvain Turgeon, he gets the honor of being a part of a special hockey trading card that will be remembered for a long time. “You wouldn’t believe how many people talk to me about the card,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2018.

Kane and Turgeon, two players from different countries who played in different eras, have forever been linked through a piece of cardboard.

This card visualizes and represents that point in every NHL players’ life where they are enamored with the game, before it gets complicated and confusing with millions of dollars at stake with every decision. This card is more than just a photo of Patrick Kane but a display of what really drives these NHL stars: a love of the game. 

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