I really wish I had better information to report to my fellow Blackhawks fans during this offseason that all came earlier than we wanted. I was hoping at this point in the offseason I would be writing about possible transactions the Blackhawks would make or the always testy goaltending situation, but here we are in mid-May and the only Blackhawk player making headlines is forward Patrick Kane. And he’s in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Kane has had the reputation as a party animal/trouble maker ever since the infamous cab driver assault incident when a then-underage, drunk Kane (along with his cousin) allegedly assaulted a cab driver in Buffalo when they thought he ripped them off on a fare. The charges were eventually dropped, but Kane was again in the news for drinking less than a year later when pictures surfaced of Kane and various teammates drinking shirtless in a limo with women after a loss in Vancouver. While Kane took criticism for these incidents and added to his reputation as a party animal, yet another incident reported during this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Madison, Wis. have put fans at their wit’s end when dealing with Kane’s debauchery.
The initial reports of Kane’s drunken follies on the campus of University of Wisconsin-Madison came from deadspin.com two days after the Cinco de Mayo parties with the embarassing headline “Patrick Kane’s Offseason Drinking Regimen is Off to a Great Start.” This article included various pictures of Kane drinking at local bars with random college kids. Not so harmful, you might think. But then Deadspin asked their readers if they had any stories or additional pictures from Kane’s drunken weekend in Madison, and that is when some really troubling accounts started to come in. Multiple eyewitnesses said that they saw Kane choke a college-aged girl when she denied his attempt to hook up with her. Kane and the people he was with allegedly had to be forcefully removed from the fraternity party where it happened. Kane was also rumored to have yelled anit-Semitic slurs at a group of people outside a bar. More pictures surfaced of Kane drinking at various bars, including a picture of Kane apparently passed out on the bar after a heavy morning and early afternoon of drinking. Multiple eyewitnesses gave accounts of his behavior, including these glowing reviews:
“Kane came in at around 9:30 pm and he could barely stand. He got kicked out about 2 hours later for being blackout drunk and generally being the biggest asshole in the bar.”
“Kaner was pulling down girls sunglasses and then going “ehhh, not good enough ” just straight being a douche right to their faces. Pretty strong move if you can pull it off.”
I realize that this is all speculation, but it is clear from the pictures that he was there (all weekend), and he was very drunk. I also realize that Kane is a 23-year-old, and a millionaire. He will want to blow off steam after a season of hard work and I understand that, but this is not Kane’s first time being photographed while wasted and he has to be more careful and disciplined. There is also the very disappointing aspect of the story that Kane declined an invitation to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships that would’ve had him in Helsinki, Finland playing hockey with some of the world’s best players on Cinco de Mayo instead of drinking in Madison. Kane’s reasoning for skipping the IIHF Worlds was even more troubling.
“I’m healthy right now,” said Kane in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m excited about that. I don’t really want to risk that, especially into next season. I saw the difference it could make, being healthy or not being healthy [in the summer].”
Kane certainly looked healthy in Madison, but he needs to know that drinking to the point of passing out in the afternoon, choking people and starting fights isn’t healthy whatsoever. It’s not healthy for his body, for his reputation, or his arrest record. There were also reports from the Deadspin article that he had run-ins with the cops multiple times over the weekend. If rehab for alcoholism is in Kane’s future, I doubt many Blackhawks fans would object. Debates have erupted all over talk radio in Chicago this week about what should be done with Kane. At this point, Kane’s behavior is getting to a point where it’s not okay to just use the “he’s a kid” excuse anymore. Kane may not want to accept the fact that he represents the Blackhawks organization even when he’s out drinking in the offseason, but he has to be more aware that people are watching him and waiting for a mistake. With everyone having a cell phone camera in their pockets now, Kane can’t get away with acting crazy at parties forever.
Blackhawks fans want to love and fully embrace Patrick Kane as the flashy hockey star he’s shown he can be. His overtime goal from the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals that brought the Blackhawks their first Cup in 49 years is playing on a constant loop on a TV in the Blackhawks Official Store on Michigan Ave. in Chicago. He’s shown flashes of brilliance and ability to play center and wing in the NHL, so fans know how valuable he could be. If he’d stay off the sports blogs for his scumbag-like behavior for just a few months, I feel a lot of fans and local sports hosts would lay off him. Kane can be the other side of the coin to “Captain serious” Jonathan Toews. But he has to work hard and put up numbers for people to accept him as a “Wild child” instead of just a drunk who continues to be photographed in all the wrong situations. Who knows what will happen with Kane? All I know is that he has his work cut out for him.