WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom
Several weeks ago, the Chicago Blackhawks could have envisioned a low-key environment for their annual trip to the campus of the University of Notre Dame to begin training for the upcoming season, even as they come off celebrating a 2015 Stanley Cup Championship.
One story has changed all that and made this victorious off-season nothing if not challenging — the ongoing investigation into the alleged rape case of Hawks superstar Patrick Kane.
The dominating theme in the Blackhawks’ press conference to open up camp Thursday was the franchise addressing this oh-so-awkward situation and the star at the middle of it giving his first public statement since the charges against him became widely known.
Kane chose to make a statement reading from a sheet of paper and took questions from the press there afterwards. While watching the presser, the thought that occurred in my mind was that the front office made Kane “face the music” in public for putting the franchise through muddy water while ruining his reputation at the same time.
There were more members of the press from outside the Chicago area and more non-sports reporters at a Hawks conference than usual, but the team was insistent that questions be kept to hockey-related issues. From the outside looking in it could obviously be seen that clearing up anything regarding the ongoing case was not of any priority and Kane, along with the Hawks’ brass, clearly decided to shove this situation under the rug.
As I stated in my last article, when the allegations first came about, the Hawks front office likes to control the message regarding the image of their franchise both on and off the ice. What we saw on Thursday was an attempt to address this most serious issue on their terms while avoiding any and all heat that could have came if they were open and transparent with the media.
Clearly, the Hawks’ “One Goal” was to wrap their unified, team-first brand around Kane and flare out its fringes so it could obstruct any view of the severity of the alleged rape case. They accomplished that goal but they did it frustratingly once they opened questions up for Kane. He either should have made a real effort to answer the litany of queries or he should have been in no position to answer anything.
If I was in charge of this press conference, Kane would have just been allowed to read his statement and then leave to join his teammates, having him sit and volley bland responses like “I appreciate that question” only passive-aggressively showed that he and the rest of the Hawks organization clearly didn’t want to deal with anything they had to deal with on Thursday.
As far as the larger question of “should Kane even participate in training camp” goes? By letting Kane participate in training camp, it’s clear to me that the Hawks organization is rolling the dice in standing behind a very important element of their roster, the overall thinking of the Hawks has to be that he is innocent and will be vindicated of all allegations.
Will Thursday’s presser be a distraction?
Once practices are routine again and games are being played, no one will care, including fans. Until we see that charges are filed, Kane should be allowed to participate in camp until further notice. Remember, he is innocent until proven guilty and he along with the accuser are allowed their day in court to settle this matter. It can’t be forgotten that there are questions that need to be answered despite us all going on with our day-to-day.
The risk could be greater than the reward in keeping Kane on the roster due to his past incidents even though he has never keen been arrested or charged with any crime, the question has to be raised that will Kane ever fully change his ways inconducting himself off the ice? Will this moment be his “scared straight” test that gets his life in order?
Time will tell, but given due his past discretions, the answer is NO. Everyone deserves a second chance, will Kane take advantage of his? He should, cause it may be his last.
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