(Photo: Video grab from CBS Local News)
“You shoulda kept your mouth shut.”
In Game Four of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins‘ Brad Marchand chirped Patrick Kane‘s lack of scoring. After Chicago took the lead, Kane was quick to approach Marchand with the jab “you shoulda kept your mouth shut.”
Well, that lesson would’ve paid off for the Blackhawks today. As Kane remains at the center of a sexual assault investigation in his hometown of Buffalo, Chicago brass not only brought him to training camp at Notre Dame, they paraded him in front of the press.
There, looking timid and awkward–hardly the showboating machine seen on ice–Kane tried to give a statement from a sheet of paper. He apologized and proclaimed his innocence.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for many people,” he said.
“I cannot apologize enough for the distraction this has caused my family, my teammates, this incredible organization and, of course, our fans.
“While I have too much respect for the legal process to comment on an ongoing matter, I am confident that once all the facts are brought to light, I will be absolved, having done nothing wrong.”
He then proceeded to thank reporters for their questions, but to decline answering anything related to the sexual assault allegations, instead focusing on hockey.
Kane voiced his excitement to be back with the team.
“We view ourselves as a family,” he said. “It’s always nice to have that support.”
He then talked freely about returning to camp, which seemed to detract from the seriousness of the allegations in Buffalo.
President and CEO of the Blackhawks John McDonough said the decision to bring Kane to camp did not come lightly–that the team worked closely with Kane’s attorneys before including him on the roster.
“The Chicago Blackhawks organization prides itself in trying to make calculated and deliberate decisions based on information we have at the present time,” he said. “We recognize that Patrick Kane is dealing with a very serious situation.”
He did not specify as to whether the team had spoken with law enforcement or the accuser’s attorneys before making the decision.
“This hasn’t been an easy situation for any of us to deal with,” he said. “It’s been a challenging summer.”
He said it had been a weight on the entire organization.
“Furthermore, we have the utmost respect for the legal process and will have no further comment on this issue at this time.”
Captain Jonathan Toews was asked if Kane apologized to his teammates and whether he supported the winger, but continued what he called a “broken record,” saying “there will be a time we can answer those questions, not now.”
Everyone said very little. But to many fans, they gave a pretty strong message. They’re standing by their man despite the ugliest of allegations–potentially alienating a large portion of their fanbase: women.
Now, the only facts we have in this case came more than a month ago, when Hamburg Police Chief Gregory G. Wickett said the police department was investigating an incident that allegedly occurred at Kane’s house the weekend of Aug 1-2. At that point, they were gathering information and awaiting forensic testing results.
Since then, the Eerie County District Attorney’s office has convened, and then postponed, a grand jury. Everything else has come from anonymous sources–but allegedly a woman went to the hospital for a rape kit following an attack at Kane’s house, spurring the continuing investigation.
Not only is sexual assault traumatic, a rape kit is a very invasive process that includes a sexual assault exam and evidence collection process. Allegedly, that woman and her friend were supposed to testify to the grand jury last week, before it was postponed to an unknown future date.
So, Kane has not been charged. His innocence is legally presumed, of course. But just as he is presumed innocent, it is important to also presume honesty from the woman who may have been sexually assaulted. And parading him into a press conference was insulting.
I don’t know if Patrick Kane is guilty or innocent. I know there’s an ongoing legal matter. That was embarrassing for Chicago, and the NHL. — Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) September 17, 2015
Aside from the derogatory things said about the alleged victim by hockey “fans” on social media and the long, drawn out investigation, her well-being has not been publicly addressed. And, for many female fans, that is ominous territory.
Today, the Blackhawks and the NHL reminded us that they don’t yet think violence against women is serious, or worth their attention.
The Hawks & NHL welcome our money, but they’re not interested in treating us as full citizens of Hockeyville. We’re women. We’re the other. — Lynne Elizabeth (@lynneelizabeth) September 17, 2015
Hockey belongs to anyone, & everyone, who loves it. That means it belongs to female fans too. We are strong, we are many, & we’re not done. — Lynne Elizabeth (@lynneelizabeth) September 17, 2015
Being a Blackhawks fan has felt like a fairly safe place for years now. We went from being alone in empty sections to on top of the world with millions of others. As female fans reached the 30 percentile, the leadership answered calls for change. But this decision seemed to be in direct contrast–and it wasn’t just the Hawks supporting Kane’s return.
As for my thoughts, well, I haven’t been able to unpack a box or wear a Stanley celly tee since the news broke in August. The 2015 parade was my last moment of joy. Now, I wonder about the entire league.
I’m not saying Kane is a rapist. He hasn’t even been charged. I can’t emphasize that enough.
But I refuse to call the woman a liar, either. Again, not enough emphasis here.
(At this point, I’d like to go over a very important issue that may or may not be related to the case, but seems to be misunderstood by many people following the case. Consent, also known as “only ‘yes’ means ‘yes.'” According to New York Law, lack of consent includes forcible compulsion and incapacity to consent.
So, no, going back to someone’s home after bar closing time is not consent to sex.)
I believe everyone–from the alleged victim to Kane to their families to teammates, friends, and fans–everyone deserves to let this run the proper legal course. And, yes, I know the legal course is imperfect, but at least it’s something.
I hold no ill will toward his teammates for supporting him. They really do spend more time together than with blood relatives, and if he believes he is innocent, then they likely have no reason to doubt him.
I also know how difficult the legal process is for victims and can only imagine how much harder it would be in such a high-profile situation.
So, the Blackhawks and the league should have known better.
They should have let the legal process run its course–regardless of whether they have some magical insider information cementing his innocence–before putting him back on the ice. I also fervently believe he needs help off the ice and that, should he truly be absolved of wrongdoing, must be a condition of his return to play. Actually, he should pursue help regardless.