CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane finally had in his hands the puck that had been used to score the game-winning goal and capture a championship.
No, not that puck.
The historic piece of rubber Kane used to give the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, when the winger scored in overtime of Game 6 against the Flyers last year, still is missing. The search for that puck has been ongoing, and it intensified with the Chicago Tribune's recent discovery of unpublished photos of NHL linesman Steve Miller scooping it off the ice and skating away with it while the Hawks celebrated on the ice in Philadelphia.
Instead, Kane had what 10-year-old Matt Cannon of Tonawanda, N.Y., considers an equally important hockey artifact.
Matt sent Kane the puck he'd used to score the winning goal to give the Tonawanda Lightning a 3-1 victory over the Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles for the Western New York Amateur Hockey League squirt championship in March.
"He gave me his game-winning-goal puck just because I didn't have mine," said Kane, a native of Buffalo, N.Y. "He mailed the puck to my parents' place. It was pretty cool. (But) it would obviously be nice to have the real thing back."
The relationship between Matt and Kane began just days after the Hawks had skated away with the 2010 Cup. Matt had sent an invitation to the two-time NHL All-Star to attend his 10th birthday party at a floor hockey facility near Tonawanda.
"Every year we have a party, and about mid-May we say to Matt, 'Who's going to be on your invitation list?' " said Dave Cannon, Matt's father. "Last year he said he wanted to invite Patrick Kane. So he filled out the invitation, and we sent it. We never thought anything of it -- why would you? Imagine our surprise when Patrick Kane walked onto the court."
Kane brought a bag of autographed items and participated in the floor hockey game pitting fathers vs. sons.
"I thought it would be cool to show up for 10 or 15 minutes, and I ended up staying there for a little bit," said Kane, 22. "The kids are the most important fans. They're the future fans, and maybe one day they'll be playing with us too."
Last month Matt sent Kane a letter letting him know about his championship-winning goal and the puck.
"Matt wanted Patrick to have this puck because he knows Patrick's winning puck is still missing," Dave Cannon said. "He told me, 'Patrick has given me so much, so I want to give him the only thing I can that he doesn't have.' "
Kane since has returned the puck to Matt. having signed it, "Congratulations on your goal, you should be proud -- Patrick Kane 88."
Plans are in the making for a party celebrating Matt's 11th birthday June 16, but it will be hard to top No. 10.
"All the kids in his school are fighting for an invitation this year," Dave Cannon said.