Chicago Blackhawks player Patrick Kane reads a statement to the media. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Beaty)
WOODRIDGE, Ill. - Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane made a public apology Monday for an incident in which he and a cousin reportedly assaulted a Buffalo, N.Y., taxi driver, but said he cannot discuss the incident because it's still before the courts.
"I know everyone wants to talk about what happened in Buffalo," the 20-year-old said at the opening of the three-day orientation camp for the U.S. Olympic hockey team at Seven Bridges Arena. "As you know, the legal proceedings are pending and I cannot discuss the events at this time.
"Because I've put myself in being in the wrong position at the wrong time, I've caused a lot of pain for my family, my home town of Buffalo, the city of Chicago, the Chicago Blackhawks and obviously, the great fans we have here in Chicago. And for that part, I sincerely apologize."
Kane was brought to the podium at the USA Hockey news conference, read his brief statement and left without taking questions.
A team spokesman said neither Kane nor his teammates would discuss the issue further during camp.
But Kane turned up with teammates to meet with the media after a one-hour skate and, while he didn't go into details, he didn't duck the issue either.
Asked if he was humbled by the situation, Kane said "Well you're not going to be happy about it," adding "it could be a lot worse."
The Buffalo native and his cousin, James Kane, were arrested in the early hours of Aug. 9 after 62-year-old taxi driver Jan Radecki reported the pair beat him up when he told them he didn't have 20 cents change for the US$13.80 fare.
The Kanes pleaded not guilty to robbery and misdemeanour counts of theft and criminal mischief. The driver's lawyer has said the incident was "blown out of proportion" and suggested the dispute can be worked out.
Kane was originally to have appeared in court Monday, but the date was postponed so he could attend the camp in a Chicago suburb.
"Now it's time for me to move forward," Kane said. "I'm excited to get back to the ice and represent the Chicago Blackhawks and the United States Olympic hockey team."
U.S. team general manager Brian Burke said he has talked to Kane and does not expect the incident to affect his focus or play. The shifty winger is expected to be a key player for the Americans at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
"It's possible for a young man to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and make a poor decision," said Burke. "I know when I was Patrick Kane's age, I did a couple of things I wouldn't want to talk about up here."
He said the incident "does not affect my opinion of Patrick Kane or his ability to contribute to this team."
A grand jury is expected to decide this week whether Kane should face criminal charges after a dispute that left the cab driver bruised and with broken glasses.
For Kane, the toughest part was the shock he gave his family.
"Probably being in handcuffs and then seeing me in handcuffs," he said. "They said it's something they never want to see again.
"'My family didn't raise me that way, so it's tough letting them down."
He got a taste of what he's in for this season from the crowd of mostly Blackhawks fans that packed into the arena for the team's first skate.
"I saw there were a lot of Kane jerseys in the stands, still a lot of support out there," he said. "I saw a Dallas guy up in front booing me pretty good.
"Sometimes you have the chuckle at things like that. There are probably going to be a lot of comments and jokes the next couple of years. It was good to get out there and put everything behind you and skate on the ice in front of some fans."
Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft and the NHL rookie of the year in 2008, had 25 goals and 45 assists last season and his team has built its marketing campaign around him. As a rookie, he had 21 goals and 51 assists. He helped the Blackhawks advance to the Western Conference final last season.
-With files from the Associated Press.