The spotlight always seems to find Patrick Kane, so it’s no surprise that he’s having the best season of his career after going through the most tumultuous offseason of his life.
And that’s where the challenge comes in for everyone, but especially for the Blackhawks. How should a professional sports franchise deal with the success of one of its best players mere months after he was the subject of a police investigation over an alleged sexual assault?
With a public celebration?
Or with a subdued, business-as-usual attitude?
During a pregame ceremony Sunday, the Hawks honored Kane for his team-record 26-game point streak. General manager Stan Bowman presented him with a gold puck and a plaque, and a montage of the streak was shown on the United Center video board.
In August, a woman accused Kane of raping her in his Hamburg, N.Y., home. In November, the Erie County district attorney announced that no charges would be filed, saying physical and forensic evidence tended to contradict the woman’s claims. For many Hawks fans, how to treat Kane thus is a no-brainer: He has been cleared, and we should be cheering his success.
But propriety would suggest that the hosannas be toned down, even if Kane is as innocent as a baby. No, that might not be fair to the Hawks’ superstar, who otherwise deserves to bask in the glow of his accomplishments this season. But with lots of people, many of them women, still upset about the case, and with feelings still raw over the much larger debate of the treatment of women, perhaps something a bit more understated was in order Sunday night at the UC.
How do you honor someone without alienating a group of people that doesn’t totally buy into Kane’s innocence in the August case? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe it should be this: Is it in the best interests of everyone involved to honor someone just two months after he was cleared of any wrongdoing?
The Hawks have supported Kane throughout his ordeal. They have been very consistent in that regard. But this time, I wonder if they were a little over-exuberant with their consistency.