Op-Eds Opinion

Patrick Kane: Why Adoring Athletes Is Dangerous

Alex Thomas
Staff Writer

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a massive hockey geek, I just adore the sport and I’m borderline obsessed with it. I’m also an American, which means that in addition to rooting for my team, the Edmonton Oilers, I openly cheer for the U.S. national team and their players in the NHL. One of those players is Patrick Kane, and I absolutely loved watching him play hockey.

That effectively changed forever on August 1, although I wouldn’t know it for almost a week. That Saturday night, August 1, is the night on which an accused crime executed by Kane took place. The  accusation? That the Chicago Blackhawks star forward and the face USA hockey had raped a girl at his house outside of Buffalo.

Before I go any further, I need to state some facts. These are accusations and nothing has been proven. At this point, Patrick Kane has to be considered innocent because we have a thing called ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in this country. That doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion on this matter, I certainly do, but it’s important to remember that, as of this writing, nothing has been proven against Kane. That being said, his name certainly is not clear right now, nor should it be.

See here’s the thing, I loved watching Kane play, but I knew what he was like off the ice. Really, anyone my age or older who pays attention to hockey knows how he is. It wasn’t that long ago, 2009 to be exact, when Kane assaulted a cab driver over some change, reportedly less than a dollar. It’s also only been a few months since he told Chicago to “watch out for me these next few weeks” after winning his third Stanley Cup in six years. Let’s also not forget the countless photos of Kane at his crazy parties that make it look like Rob Gronkowski takes it easy. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with drinking and having fun, but Kane has, numerous times, taken it over the line.

So, people my age or older know about those things, but what about young kids? What about the seven year old in Chicago who plays hockey and wears his Kane jersey to school with pride because Kane is his idol? Can you imagine what kind of conversation it would be if you were a parent of that child? How do you tell your kid that his or her idol is accused of rape? Same goes for kids in Pittsburgh with Ben Rothlisberger back in the 2000s, and kids in Baltimore with Ray Rice not that long ago.

Simply put, adoring and looking up to professional athletes, for the most part, is a very slippery slope. Unfortunately, a lot of these guys are not role models; they are far from perfect people. That goes for the NFL, the NHL, the NBA and the MLB, this isn’t a one-sport problem.

As for the Kane case itself, it’s gotten quite disturbing. Last week, the rape kit was reportedly stolen, ripped open and delivered to the accuser’s mother. It turns out that it was a hoax, a fake rape kit that was set up to win the public battle against Kane, which in turn resulted in one of the accuser’s attorneys quitting. . Does that impact this case at all? It certainly makes the mother, the rumored executer of the hoax, look bad, but it doesn’t impact the case or the accuser. Luckily, that’s also the thought process from those in charge of this investigation.

When will we get an end game to this? Likely not any time soon. The grand jury hearing in the Buffalo area, the home of Kane and site of the accused crime, continues to get pushed back, so there is no real timetable. Answers might not come for weeks, even months.

Lastly, I want to say I think it’s a joke that Kane will be allowed to suit up in the season opener against the Rangers next Wednesday night. I understand nothing has been proven, and I understand he is the fact of the league’s best team  but he is involved in a serious criminal investigation. The NHL’s CBA clearly states a player can be suspended for legal matters that make the league’s public image look bad. If this isn’t that, then I don’t know what is.

Last year, the NHL rightly suspended LA Kings’ defender Slava Voynov while he was under investigation for domestic violence, before any court hearing or anything was proven. Voynov isn’t a superstar, while Kane is, hence why he’s getting seemingly special treatment during this. Quite frankly, the NHL looks just as bad as the NFL did with the Ray Rice situation. It’s quite angering, too, if you ask me.

Simply put, the NHL must suspend Patrick Kane, and they must suspend him right now.

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