Blackhawks concerned about Patrick Kane’s off-ice escapades
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com May 29, 2012 9:48PM
“Would I have liked to see him in the photos? Of course not,” Rocky Wirtz said of Patrick Kane.
Updated: July 3, 2012 12:58PM
In the days after pictures of Patrick Kane partying in Madison, Wis., went viral on the Internet this month, the Blackhawks remained suspiciously quiet.
Behind the scenes, however, sources say the team continued to preach restraint with one of its most important players.
On Tuesday, the Hawks made their first public comments about the embarrassing episode during a conference call with general manager Stan Bowman to announce the re-signing of Jamal Mayers and Johnny Oduya.
“We are aware of that situation,” Bowman said when asked by the Sun-Times about Kane. “We followed it closely. It was one of those things where we’ve discussed it with Patrick. We’ve handled that internally.
“We’re obviously disappointed with how it played it out, and Patrick is aware of that fact. But at this point, it’s a private matter. I think, out of respect for Patrick, we’re not going to comment further. We’re going to look forward and try to focus on things in improving our team leading into the summer.”
But the Hawks are more than just disappointed in Kane. A team source told the Sun-Times that some in the organization have suggested that Kane seek help.
“He’s obviously got some issues,” the source said. “How many more times can these things happen? It’s a much bigger thing than some photographs in a 48-hour window.”
It was the last thing the Hawks wanted to see to kick off their offseason — which was already going to be tumultuous.
Kane was photographed numerous times during a trip to Madison when he took part in the Mifflin Street Block Party for Cinco de Mayo.
There were pictures of Kane lying on the ground littered with empty beer cans, one with his head down on a bar and another showing a police officer shadowing him. And then came the series of unconfirmed allegations made on Deadspin.com by anonymous people.
This isn’t the first time Kane’s off-ice behavior has concerned the Hawks.
Kane’s actions and how the organization responds to them can be telling.
“Other players look at how they handle a situation like this,” the source said.
Unlike 2009, when he was arrested in Buffalo for the cabdriver incident, or 2010, when he was photographed without his shirt in a Vancouver limousine, or even those instances in Chicago bars that resulted in him being put on YouTube, Kane, 23, is at a pivotal point in his career.
He just finished his fifth season in the NHL and had his worst offensive output, a career-low 66 points.
Kane deserves credit for handling center, playing with a surgically repaired wrist and stepping up in Jonathan Toews’ absence, but more was expected. Just when it looked like he took a step forward with his maturity, he fell back.
He said on April 25 that he decided against playing for Team USA during this year’s world championships because he was finally healthy and wanted to maintain his fitness. It was a move many insiders looked at skeptically.
A little more than a week later, Kane visited Madison while the tournament went on. Meanwhile, Hawks teammates — notably standouts Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp — were playing for their countries.
“When is [Kane] going to learn?” another team source said.
As much as Kane is respected for his affability and admired for his hockey skills, he also has gained a reputation as one of the NHL’s biggest partiers.
The nighttime exploits of players have been big story lines this postseason.
Predators forwards Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn stayed out late the night before Game 2 of their second-round series against the Coyotes, were benched for Game 3, became a major distraction for the team and were ultimately cited as one of the reasons for Nashville’s demise.
On the other hand, former Flyers forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, reputed partiers in Philadelphia, have helped take the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals after being traded away.
Kane has three years left on a contract that carries a $6.3 million cap hit.
“[Kane] has teased and pleased all of us with his talent,” longtime NHL goalie and former Hawk Marty Turco said. “Not many possess his skill set. He has handled success at an early age decently with all things considered.
“What happens from here on out will determine his legacy. There comes a time to take personal ownership of your career and how it’s played out. P. Kane’s time is now.”