By Adam Hess
Allow me to very clear at the start of this column: Patrick Kane is not a criminal. I do not think he is a criminal, nor am I accusing nor convicting him of being a criminal. He was investigated for criminal charges this summer, and that investigation was dismissed without said criminal charges being brought against him.
Patrick Kane is difficult to truly and fully enjoy watching this season, which is an absolute shame given the fact that is by far the best season of his career thus far.
He is the best player in the league, bar none, leading the league in scoring and setting record for the longest point streak by an American NHL player and the Blackhawks record for longest point streak in team history. His streak sits at 22 games at time of writing and has potential to be at 23 by the time of print, if Kane can record a point against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
Still, for many fans of the Blackhawks and NHL in general, there is a dark cloud that hangs over Patrick Kane and his accomplishments this season. He may not have been charged, but it’s hard to just move on from your favorite team’s star player – who was maybe your favorite player, as he was mine – being accused of a horrible crime.
Maybe it’d be easier if the situation was a one-off, the first time Kane was involved in any sort of questionable off-ice behavior, but it wasn’t. So it isn’t.
Maybe it’d be easier if Kane hadn’t been pranced into training camp like nothing was different, if the Blackhawks hadn’t brought him in and pretended it was business as usual. But he was, and they did. So it isn’t.
Patrick Kane spent the first few years of his career giving the Blackhawks and their fans reason not to trust him. By now you know about the cab driver in Buffalo and his Drink-o de Mayo in Wisconsin, so I won’t hash over those events again, but it’s safe to say that those events created doubt about Kane’s maturity.
Then he spent the next few years giving the team and fans reason to have confidence that he was growing, maturing, and becoming a leader for the Blackhawks both on and off the ice.
Then he brought all of that trust down by being accused of rape. Again, he wasn’t charged, and I’m not here to convict him of anything. But being a drunken fool is one thing; being suspected of committing a horrible crime against another human being is another.
So Patrick Kane’s incredible success so far this season is awesome. Considering he’s the only player on the Blackhawks consistently producing, I hope it continues. And I’m very happy that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that he committed a rape, because that probably means he didn’t.
But you’ll have to forgive me, and other fans like me, if I’m still hesitant to get right back to supporting and loving Kaner the way I did just six months ago.