Rozner: Innocent or guilty, Blackhawks' Kane on road to ruin

  • If Patrick Kane, here pumping his fist at the crowd during the Stanley Cup Hawks Rally at Soldier Field, stays and plays hockey in Chicago, he will have to find a way to change his lifestyle.

      If Patrick Kane, here pumping his fist at the crowd during the Stanley Cup Hawks Rally at Soldier Field, stays and plays hockey in Chicago, he will have to find a way to change his lifestyle. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/6/2015 11:44 PM

I confess to not having watched the Blackhawks' parade and subsequent party at Soldier Field in June.

But a Hawks employee suggested I watch Pat Foley's introduction of Patrick Kane, so when I returned home that night I headed straight for the DVR.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Foley could not have been more gracious, praising Kane for his amazing play and Kane's maturation right before our eyes. He mentioned Kane's Game 6 assist on the winning goal against Tampa and that Kane scored the insurance goal to secure the Stanley Cup at home.

Yelled Foley, "A joy to watch him grow and grow up, Patrick Kane!!!"

Kane walked right by Foley without shaking his hand and delivered what now feels like a chilling response, saying, "I know he said I've been growing up, but watch out for me in the next week."

That was seven weeks ago and now here we are, Kane the subject of a sexual assault investigation in his hometown of Buffalo, according to the Buffalo News.

As of Thursday night no charges had been filed, but the News reported that Kane's home in Hamburg, New York, was searched by police officers Sunday night, with at least one officer wearing gloves while they explored the house.

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The Hawks and Kane's agent both issued statements Thursday saying -- essentially -- nothing, that they're attempting to gather facts before commenting further.

But guilty or not -- and Kane is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise -- it's fair to wonder what becomes of Kane's image and career in Chicago.

The Hawks have invested another $84 million in the superstar winger, an eight-year contract that begins with the upcoming NHL season, and the Hawks had thought he was past putting himself in compromising situations.

As the story had been written repeatedly, Kane has had a girlfriend for a couple of years, was taking his job and training seriously and would no longer be as big a threat off the ice as he was on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So much for that narrative.

Whether or not he did something horrific this time, Kane appears to have put himself in a bad spot and again embarrassed himself and the hockey team, a hockey team that prides itself on the brand and the optics.

According to the Buffalo News, a local woman has accused Kane of sexual assault, and law enforcement sources told the paper the accuser went to a hospital for tests and a rape kit.

Again, Kane has not been charged with a crime, but this is not a headline Hawks president John McDonough envisioned seeing when he put $84 million in front of the 26-year-old forward.

The Hawks had been assured by Kane and his people that they would not have to worry about any more off-ice problems.

And this is -- by a country mile -- the biggest of them all.

In 2009, Kane and a cousin were arrested in Buffalo after being accused of punching a cabdriver and charged with second-degree robbery, fourth-degree criminal mischief and theft of services.

Three weeks later the pair pleaded guilty to noncriminal disorderly conduct and were granted conditional discharges after apologizing.

In January 2010, there was the infamous shirtless limo ride in Vancouver with a couple of teammates and several girls, and after the Olympics he attended a concert and was seen partying into the morning before the Hawks' first post-Olympics game.

In 2012, Kane nearly broke social media when photos surfaced of him in Madison, Wisconsin, not the least of which showed Kane passed out at a bar. Deadspin reported that Kane was thrown out of bars and fraternities that weekend and was involved in more than one fracas.

Now he's in very big trouble, according to the Buffalo News, and this makes all his previous events seem like child's play.

Even if he's cleared of any wrongdoing, the court of public opinion may not be as kind. Kane's image is being cemented as an entitled athlete who can't take care of himself and cares nothing for others.

The Buffalo News story recapped Kane's weekend of barhopping, describing a stop at which he told a patron that he was "too bombed for a pic."

Patrick Kane may be innocent of everything except poor judgment, but those who pay for tickets and those who sign his paychecks also will have something to say regarding his future employment.

And if he stays and plays hockey here, he will have to find a way to spend his summers away from bars and the people who enable his self-destructive behavior.

Fortunately, we no longer live in a world where the entitled get to do whatever they want, wherever they want, without consequences.

Kane has lived that life since he arrived in the NHL, and the Hawks have done everything imaginable to break him of his habits.

If he somehow survives this crisis, he's going to have to take the next step on his own.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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