Imrem: Could (and should) Chicago Blackhawks have done more?

  • Could or should the Blackhawks have managed star winger Patrick Kane in a more effective manner?

    Could or should the Blackhawks have managed star winger Patrick Kane in a more effective manner? Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/11/2015 6:56 AM

About a million unanswered questions swirl around the sexual-assault investigation surrounding Patrick Kane.

One that nags is whether the Blackhawks did enough in the past to address their superstar winger's character flaws.

 

Another is whether any pro sports franchise is responsible for policing an athlete's issues away from the game.

Kane has not been charged with a crime. And he should be considered innocent unless he is proven guilty in a court of law.

All we know for certain right now is that police in New York are investigating claims of something that is alleged to have happened at his house near his hometown of Buffalo, that forensic evidence collected there is being examined and that Kane has hired the attorney who dealt with his earlier transgression involving a cabdriver.

However, Kane is being tried daily in the court of public opinion, where his priors precede him.

Hawks teammate Jonathan Toews would receive the benefit of doubt if he were in Kane's predicament.

Toews has conducted himself over the years like a Golden Boy compared to Kane's Bad Boy. You'd be surprised if the former were in trouble; you had to hope the latter wouldn't be.

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Now, one sentiment is that the Hawks franchise is a victim that has been betrayed by either Kane or his accuser.

But another is that the club bears some responsibility for the latest "Patrick Kane situation."

Personally, I couldn't care less about future consequences for the Hawks -- such as can they repeat as Stanley Cup champions? -- than about past decisions.

So, I ask, could the Hawks and should the Hawks have managed Kane in a more effective manner?

The Hawks have been Chicago's model professional sports franchise on and off the ice. But that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes.

Kane has at least three embarrassing prior incidents that signaled a dangerous life path.

Hawks ownership and management presumably scolded Kane about his behavior and urged him to clean up his act.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Hawks have leverage with hockey players. They want to come here to play; those already here want to stay.

Kane wants to play for the Hawks, so maybe they could have demanded that he get help.

Did the Hawks ever insist that Kane allow a professional to evaluate him before they signed him to an eight-year, $84-million contract extension?

Or did the Hawks simply believe what they wanted to believe: That Patrick Kane had become a new and improved person?

Kane helped the Hawks win three Stanley Cups and they're in the business of winning, so maybe their only responsibility is to employ the best players possible regardless of rap sheets.

Then again, players being positive role models is good for business, too.

As far as we know, Kane, 26, had been incident-free the past three years. He was praised for growing up, but it takes longer than that to outrun -- or outskate -- the past.

At worst, Kane did something heinous this time. At best, he put himself in a compromising position.

This spring, Kane played a prominent role in the Blackhawks' third Stanley Cup championship in six years.

Then Kane warned on the stage at the Hawks' latest victory celebration, "I know you said I've been growing up, but watch out for me the next week."

Now, even if nothing bad comes out of the sexual-assault allegation for Kane, nothing good can come out of it, either.

Either way, I still wonder whether the Hawks could have done more to keep Patrick Kane out of trouble.

And whether it was even their responsibility to do so.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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