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Patrick Kane trade decision should not be about Blackhawks' image

John McDonough watches over the Blackhawks’ image like a 16th Century chaperone protecting her charge’s reputation.

I have no doubt the Hawks president has possession of many more facts involving the Patrick Kane situation than we do. That’s not difficult, seeing as how we hardly have any.

Mark Lazerus, who covers the Hawks for the Sun-Times, wrote Tuesday that the team should consider trading Kane, one of their megastars. The damage to the franchise’s brand and the disruption his presence would cause in the coming season, especially if the investigation drags on, are factors the team has to contemplate, he wrote. And they are.

But I keep coming back to something I wrote a few weeks ago: We’ve all heard the criticism that Kane put himself in a bad situation earlier this month by taking a woman back to his Hamburg, N.Y., home, but what does that mean? That Kane, because he has had several messy, public missteps in the past, shouldn’t be meeting women in bars and taking them home? That because he has a girlfriend, he shouldn’t be doing that sort of thing? Are the Hawks in the public morals business now, with McDonough serving as a latter-day J. Edgar Hoover?

Perhaps the Hawks know that something truly awful happened at Kane’s home. If so, then he deserves whatever justice is in order, with a trade being the least of his worries.

But what if he’s not guilty of anything other than bad judgment? What if the district attorney investigating the case doesn’t bring charges? Or what if he does bring charges and a jury finds Kane not guilty?

If this is just about Hawks’ carefully crafted image, then that’s not enough to warrant a trade, especially if the team believes he didn’t do anything criminal. From a public-relations standpoint, you don’t want pickets outside the United Center every time the Hawks play. I get that.

But I care about whether a terrible crime was committed. The last thing I care about is the Hawks’ image.