SOUTH BEND, Ind. – When Patrick Kane walked into an auditorium at the Compton Family Ice Arena to meet the media he didn’t stride in with his usual gait. His demeanor sagged a little bit, and the usually self-confident Kane looked like he’d rather be doing anything else.
But there he was – ready to read a statement, answer a few questions and say he appreciated questions he couldn’t answer.
There was one thing he was confident in – that he’d be absolved.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for many people. I cannot apologize enough for the distraction this has caused my family, my teammates, this incredible organization, and of course our fans,” Kane said in his prepared statement. “While I have too much respect for the legal process to comment on an ongoing matter, I am confident that once all facts have (come) to light, I will be absolved of having done nothing wrong.”As expected, Kane had reported Thursday for the start of training camp despite being involved in an ongoing police investigation in Western New York. There had been speculation he wouldn’t attend, that he and the Hawks would agree it would be the best thing for everybody if he stayed away from the team.
That’s not what happened. President John McDonough said the Hawks had been in contact with Kane’s legal team, and decided to bring him to camp, where they’ll take the ice for the first time Friday.
“The Chicago Blackhawks organization prides itself in trying to make calculated and deliberate decisions based on information we have at the present time. We recognize that Patrick Kane is dealing with a very serious situation,” McDonough said. “Based on our discussions with his legal representatives, who are very close to this matter, we have decided to have Patrick join us for training camp here at the University of Notre Dame.”
Beyond deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying in a statement that the league and Hawks had been contact over the last week and that “we support the Club’s decision in this situation,” not many answers came. Jonathan Toews conceded “of course, to a certain degree, nobody wanted this” but multiple responses had a similar tone, that the team couldn’t comment on much because of legal reasons.
McDonough also contributed another statement that pushed 900 words, one singing all the praises of the Hawks organization. The Rockford IceHogs, assistant coaches, front-office staff and ownership were all noted, but there was no mention of anything about Kane’s situation or its potential ramifications.
“Provide the ultimate in-game fan experience when you go to the United Center and people experience a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game, they walk out of that arena and they say to themselves, ‘I’ve never experienced anything like that before,’” McDonough said. “Humanizing our players — making sure that they have a relationship with our fans, that we go beyond the player in uniform, learn a little bit more about their player and their families.”
Well, not much was learned Thursday.
“I appreciate the question,” Kane said in response to a question whether he’d stop drinking regardless of what happens with the investigation. “I wish I could answer those questions right now but there is a legal matter going on that I can’t answer that.”
“I can assure you that I am anything but tone deaf,” McDonough said.
“I’m not going to address hypotheticals,” McDonough said when asked whether Kane would be in South Bend if he were a fourth-liner.
Kane, as we all know, is far from a fourth-liner that can be exiled with little fanfare. He’s a former playoff MVP, Olympic medalist and one of the most exciting players in the world. He’s one of the faces of the NHL’s most popular franchise, making an already-uncomfortable situation even tougher.
“I will say this hasn’t been an easy situation for any of us to deal with,” McDonough said. “It’s been a challenging summer. This has weighed on all of us.”