(Photo: SarahA.Photography Flickr)

If you were to ask me to think of the worst thing that could happen to my favorite team or players, it wouldn’t have to do with losses. That 2014 Alec Martinez Western Conference Finals Game Seven overtime goal was nothing compared to today’s news.

According to The Buffalo News, Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks’ 26-year-old star winger, may be under investigation following allegations of a sexual assault last weekend. Anonymous sources said Hamburg police are joined by another department as well as Erie County District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau Chief Roseanne Johnson in the investigation.

A Buffalo-area woman went to police and accused Kane of sexual assault after meeting him at a Buffalo bar and then going to his lakefront mansion late Saturday night/Sunday morning–she then went to the hospital where a rape kit examination was conducted, sources told The Buffalo News.

This information comes from anonymous law enforcement sources, though they’re under a strict gag order, the News said.

Friday morning, Hamburg Police Chief Gregory G. Wickett released a brief statement:

“The Town of Hamburg Police Department is investigating an incident that allegedly occurred at the residence of NHL player Patrick Kane last weekend.
At this time, we are gathering information and awaiting forensic testing results. We will have no further comment on the investigation at this time.”

Wickett would not confirm that sexual assault was part of the investigation, nor did the report specify Kane as the suspect–just that the alleged incident under investigation occurred at his home.

He took no questions, but did note that reporters staying the weekend awaiting news would likely be wasting their time, which aligns with a comment made Thursday.

“If and when an arrest is made, we will provide the information,” he said.

The NHL said Thursday they were aware of the investigation and following the matter.

“We are aware of the matter and are in the process of gathering information. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” The Blackhawks said in a statement.

Neighbors told media plain-clothes detectives visited Kane’s large Hamburg home over the weekend with cameras and flashlights.

To be 100 percent clear, Kane hasn’t even been charged yet, let alone convicted. But that doesn’t make the victim’s accusations any less significant.

For me, the most painful thing as a fan is to see even the possibility that one of “my players” has been involved in a horrific crime. We get emotionally involved in these people, however irrationally, as we cheer for them night after night, year after year.

Though Kane’s far from my favorite Blackhawk, he’s certainly contributed to the team’s success over the last several years with three Stanley Cups and an MVP. But the idea of losing that is not what’s troubled me most as I’ve read and re-read the news today.

It’s that rather than seeing “Showtime!” Kane and “Comeback/Clutch Kane,” I see “Community Kane” crumbling.
 

 
I don’t think about Cup runs and “dynasties.” I don’t think about cap hits. I think about the guy who pulled over and rolled down his window on Madison Street when he saw people in Hawks jerseys so he could sign autographs. I think about the hospital visits. I think about all of the kids wearing number 88.

 

 

I think of all of the positive influences he could have had as a high-profile athlete and role model (voluntary or otherwise). I could lament what all he could be giving up in his career if he committed this horrendous crime, but should that be the case, it certainly isn’t him I’d feel sorry for.

I think about his mom and dad who made sacrifices to make his career possible. And, I think of his three younger sisters–because as a sister to three brothers, I simply cannot comprehend how they must be feeling right now.

I’m sad and disappointed that he could put himself in a position to even be involved in something so awful. Kane has a rocky past that involves disorderly conduct after a physical altercation with a cab driver in 2009 and some rowdy, drunken displays in Wisconsin and Vancouver. But in recent years he’s been relatively well-behaved, and he credited his family and the Blackhawks organization for the improvement.

 

“My parents were huge during that. And I’m sure they’re disappointed when their kid goes through something like that. My sisters are the greatest, nicest kids in the world and then something like that happens to me, it was tough to let them down,” Kane told CSN’s Chris Boden in 2013, with tears in his eyes. “Then the Blackhawks were great for sticking with me through those tough times was huge. After we won the Cup, talking to those guys and seeing the faith they had in me it makes you emotional. It’s unbelievable.”

And, he talked about his past again in February.
 
“Everyone has a different path, that’s for sure. I was lucky enough when I was going through my bumps that the Blackhawks stuck with me and gave me another chance. “I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else, so I’m very fortunate for that.”

So I wonder why, on earth, with all of these opportunities, would he veer off that path? And, very importantly, I think about this woman who was brave enough to go to the police and to the hospital for the very invasive rape kit process.

Because, just as there are no charges against Kane yet, there’s absolutely nothing to say this woman isn’t telling the truth. There’s nothing to show she wasn’t a victim to a scary, humiliating, dehumanizing crime–and, unfortunately, someone I’ve loudly praised and cheered for on the ice may be involved. That thought makes me physically ill.

These are extremely complex cases. And the one tiny bit of comfort I can find in this is that the police at least appear to be thoroughly investigating the woman’s claims–and seem to have started doing so promptly with two police departments and a special victims unit prosecutor all involved.

 

Buffalo News reporter Tim Graham tweeted that his sources revealed Kane’s apparent cooperation with police–with a willingness to “turn himself in,” though, to be clear, that does not imply charges or a warrant.

As for what’s next–no one knows.  

 


I know I hope this woman is getting the care she needs right now.

And I’m certain that, for me, none of his previous accolades and none of his future on-ice potential matters if he sexually assaulted a woman. While I agree to try to reserve judgment as this case plays out, I know that if he is indeed guilty of sexual assault, I don’t want to see that red sweater on him when the banner is raised this year.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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