It was more than a year ago when Patrick Kane, sitting in his locker after a game, addressed a recent Deadspin article. Kane had missed two practice days with the flu; the story said his illness came after he was out drinking too much at a local establishment.
"When you see that, your heart kind of drops, especially when you're sick," Kane said at the time. "I'm here to play hockey. I think that website makes up a lot of stuff.
Its possible the site did make up that February 2011 story. Kane said the pictures accompanying it were probably from the summer. But when the site wrote about Kanes partying at a Madison, Wis., Cinco de Mayo celebration earlier this month, theres no doubt the Blackhawks forward was there, and doing just that.
How far things got out of hand is whats up for debate. Anonymous witnesses claim Kane choked a woman and said anti-Semetic remarks. As of now, its all just here-say. The Dane County (Wis.) DAs office said Monday that there are no charges against Kane. According to the Madison police department, a sergeant did have contact with Kane, but whatever his behavior was it did not rise to the level of an arrest.
As for the Blackhawks, all has been quiet. Requests to talk to Kane have been quelled thus far. Same goes for any team statements regarding the matter. Rest assured, you can be certain some team officials have followed up with him about the weekend.
Eventually, someone will have to talk about it. It will hang like a cloud over the team and, more specifically Kane, until he does. Kane was very quiet during the season, his focus seemingly on hockey and trying to adjust to the center position. But even if all Kane did was drink that weekend in Wisconsin, he at least needs to stop drawing attention to himself. Eyes and video cameras are on him constantly. And wearing a T-shirt with your past dalliances on your back just begs for attention.
Players vacationpartylet loose in the offseason. They always have. In the good-old days things were swept under the rug or flat-out ignored. But this is a different time. There is no such thing as off limits, and thats especially true when the subject puts himself out there so visibly.
So far, the incidents havent cost him. His latest behavior has led to team silence and likely some headaches, but no charges. On the ice Kane had a solid season, adjusting to the center position well and putting up decent numbers in the process. But what happens when the off-ice bad starts outweighing the on-ice good?
Kane has had a lot thrust on him at a young age, but hes hardly the only one in todays NHL. The leagues superstars have pressures coming from all sides and at all times. Handling it all the right way is the key. Kane needs to learn how to do that soon.
If he doesnt, it could cost him a lot more than a hazy weekend.