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What have we all learned from the Patrick Kane affair?

Ken Campbell
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Patrick Kane (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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What have we all learned from the Patrick Kane affair?

Ken Campbell
By:

Patrick Kane will not face rape charges for what happened in his suburban Buffalo home in the summer, but has there been irreversible damage done to his reputation?

Is it possible that Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita could have been more emphatic in stating that the People of the State of New York had no case in the Patrick Kane rape allegation? Methinks not.

“The totality of the credible evidence - the proof - does not sufficiently substantiate the complainant’s allegation that she was raped by Patrick Kane,” Sedita wrote Thursday in a statement, “and this so-called ‘case’ is rife with reasonable doubt.”

Those are very, very strong words. We should also point out that the quote marks around the word case were deliberately placed there by Sedita’s office. The statement also went on to say that there are significant material inconsistencies between the complainant’s accounts and those of other witnesses; the DNA results lend no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant’s claim; and, the physical evidence and the forensic evidence, when viewed in tandem, tend to contradict the complainant’s claim

We will probably never know what happened that night three months ago in Kane’s home in the Buffalo suburbs, but we do know this much, the authorities do not have enough evidence to proceed with charges.

The NHL will be conducting it's own review into the case. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement Thursday that said the NHL will "promptly review the information."

So what have we learned here? Well, for one, we all know now that rape kits come in boxes, not bags. But we’ve also learned, one would hope, that it’s very dangerous to rush to judgment on these things one way or another. There was a significant portion of the hockey world that wanted to string Kane up, keep him from participating in training camp and void his contract, despite the absence of charges. And there was another faction, such as those who cheered him when he stepped on the ice for the first time in camp, that was ready to rush to his defense without knowing what the facts were.

Both of them kind of leave you feeling a little uneasy, don’t they? From the 'hang him high' crowd to those who shamed the accuser, a lot of people come off not looking great here.

The Blackhawks were vilified in many corners for their decision to have Kane report to camp at a time when tensions seemed to be at their highest. But if Kane really, truly believed he did nothing wrong and the Blackhawks believed him, why should Kane have been treated any differently than anyone else? He was charged with nothing and had the right to go to work, after all, didn’t he?

There will be those, one would think, who will claim this is yet another case of a rich, famous person with lots of money for defense lawyers getting off scot-free. But we do know that a reputable DA spent three months investigating this matter, managed to do so despite a circus-like atmosphere at times, and found that not only did he not have a chance to secure a conviction, but found a “case” that was rife with reasonable doubt. That’s what we have here and at some point, we have to have faith that our trusted servants are doing their jobs properly.

Kane, meanwhile, had his image yanked from the cover of the EA Sports NHL 16 video game and saw the London Knights remove his name from one of its training camp teams. It’s safe to say this case has cost him a substantial amount of money, perhaps millions in endorsements, although other companies such as Bauer, Gatorade, McDonald’s and Chevrolet did not sever ties with him. And for a player who seemed to be working so hard to shed his party-boy reputation, Kane will now have to work twice as hard to restore the goodwill again.

People in general, and sports fans in particular, tend to be rather quick to forget about these things. Kane will go on earning his eight-year, $84 million contract with the Blackhawks and this will probably go down as a footnote in his career legacy. But maybe, just maybe, the legacy should be that we’ve all learned how dangerous it is to rush to judgment about either side of these kinds of things before knowing all the facts.

Maybe. We’ll find out the next time something like this comes up.

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What have we all learned from the Patrick Kane affair?