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Patrick Kane eager to focus on hockey, return to normalcy

NEWARK, N.J. — Patrick Kane said “there’s probably a date and time to address” his off-ice behavior and his future with the Blackhawks, but for now, he’s simply focused on playing hockey — the one thing that has given him a sense of normalcy over a tumultuous three months.

“When I’m on the ice, I’m not thinking about it too much,” Kane said Friday morning, a day after Erie County district attorney Frank Sedita decided not to charge the 26-year-old superstar in connection with a sexual-assault allegation. “Like I said before, it’s one of those things where it’s kind of been my little getaway to play hockey and enjoy being at the rink. It’s what I love to do. I love being on the ice, I love playing hockey. So I’m looking forward to getting a chance to keep doing that.”

Kane deferred to the statement he released Thursday — in which he said “I repeatedly said that I did nothing wrong” — several times on Friday, but he answered questions from reporters for about four minutes following Friday’s morning skate. It wasn’t contentious at all, and Kane opened up a bit about how much support he received during a trying time.

As for whether he needs to curtail his drinking to secure his future and restore his good name, Kane demurred.

“I think there’s probably a date and time to address those things,” he said. “But as for right now, I kind of released my statement through the Blackhawks, and that’s all I’m really going to say on the matter.”

Kane said he was most relieved for his family and friends.

“My family’s been great, all my friends,” he said. “You go through something like this, you realize who your close friends are, who your supporters are. Obviously, the Blackhawks have been great, too. I appreciate all that support and it’s meant a lot, too, throughout this whole thing. The fans, as well.”

Kane declined to say whether he’s talked at any point with the league, which is conducting its own investigation and still has the power to suspend him if they find any conduct “detrimental” to the NHL. He also said the Hawks haven’t approached him about any possible trades; at least five interested teams contacted the Hawks when the allegation first surfaced in early August, according to a source, though the Hawks have not actively shopped him.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kane’s legal situation never was brought up among the team.

“I think everybody handled it as best we could,” Quenneville said. “Kaner approached it [the right way] every day coming to the rink — good attitude, his focus was in the right place, he played well. The consistency of his approach helped him through it. As a teammate, I don’t recall anybody ever discussing it or talking about it. it was always business as usual, and the focus was on the next game. Everyone has their own business, as well. So it wasn’t the distraction it potentially could have been.”

Quenneville was asked if Kane has to change his ways off the ice. He tried to spin it as a positive, but said, “If you’re looking on the negative side of things, a lot of things can go wrong, whether it’s any individual,” he said. “We’re dealing with what we’re dealing with and we’re moving forward.”

Jonathan Toews said it’s been “pretty amazing” how Kane has managed to play so well with so much on his mind. Kane leads the Hawks with eight goals and 10 assists through 13 games

“It’s hard to imagine what would have gone through my head or any other player’s in this room had they gone through the same situation,” Toews said. “But he’s handled it very well and we’re happy he can just continue to focus on hockey and keep helping our team the way he has.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus