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NHL deems allegations against Patrick Kane ‘unfounded’

Patrick Kane leads the NHL with 89 points in 67 games. (AP Photo)

ST. LOUIS — The NHL on Wednesday closed its independent investigation into Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, deeming the allegations of sexual assault made against him by a woman in August “unfounded.”

The league said that Kane had an in-person meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday.

“Based on its review, including the determination made by the Erie County District Attorney not to pursue charges, the NHL has concluded that the allegations made against Kane were unfounded,” the league said in a statement. “The league considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.”

Kane had been been the subject of a three-month investigation after a woman made the allegations to police in Hamburg, New York, on Aug. 2. Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita announced on Nov. 5 that he was not filing charges against Kane, calling it a “so-called” case that was “rife with reasonable doubt.”

While the Hawks took some heavy criticism for standing by Kane and allowing him to participate in training camp and then the regular season in light of the allegations, it’s been mostly business as usual on the ice for Kane, who’s having the best season of his career. The boos and chants at opposing arenas stopped soon after the season began, and Kane has set career highs with 38 goals and 89 points. He’s the front-runner to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville frequently commended Kane on his ability to focus on hockey, and his teammates said the investigation was never a distraction in the dressing room. Both Hawks general manager Stan Bowman and team president John McDonough have said that Kane remains in the team’s long-term plans.

Besides saying he would cooperate with the league investigation, Kane hasn’t spoken about the case since Sedita’s decision not to charge him.

“I don’t know if I’d call it a non-issue — that’s totally false,” Kane said on Oct. 17. “I have to deal with it. I have to answer questions about it. There’s not much I can really say except I didn’t do anything wrong. Other than that, we’ll leave it up to everyone else to make those decisions with what comes next and what happens.”