By Paul M. Banks
When Patrick Kane read his apologetic public statement this morning, he delivered it just a couple feet away from a life-size poster of himself playing for Team USA. His extremely brief remarks opened the U.S. Men’s National Team Orientation Camp; a practice session drawing a capacity crowd of 1,250 fans. A few hundred more were turned away. Many that did attend camped out the night before to guarantee admission. A good sized portion of the fans making the trek to Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Illinois did so wearing #88 Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks sweaters and t-shirts. Today, Kane was the rock star of the team, a bad boy in demand by hundreds of autograph seekers. But it’s not just the fans that are overwhelmingly supportive of Kane in his hour of need.
Team USA General Manager Brian Burke boldly endorsed Kane. “I think it’s possible for a young man to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and make a poor decision. I know when I was Patrick Kane’s age I did a couple of things I wouldn’t want to talk about up here,” Burke said.
Burke also made a valid point about the media, and the two-sided equation often involved with the reporting of a star athlete in legal trouble. “The normal process when it happens is unfortunate, but what comes with the salary when you’re a professional athlete, is that an incident like this gets huge play immediately. And when the athlete is later exonerated in anyway, it’s page 5 in the transactions column or something,” Burke said. “I’m not scolding the media for that, that’s the life that we all live,” he continued.
Burke later re-stated and elaborated this same point in different words with more emotion when answering another question about Kane. Of course, it’s hard to argue against the veracity of his point. But then again, photo-ops of players in the community doing charity work doesn’t “sell papers,” so (on the other hand) it’s also difficult to sympathize with Burke’s position.
Team USA’s GM went on to say that Kane’s situation does not affect his judgment of him, Kane’s focus on playing hockey and his ability to contribute to the team. “We’re here to get ready for 2010 and we’re not talking about Patrick Kane after we leave here…We’re going to Vancouver to win, and as far as I’m concerned this will play itself out. I wish I could talk more about it, I can tell you that.”
And what did the man himself, Patrick Kane have to say? “I haven’t really told anyone my side of the story to be honest with you,” Kane said Monday after his practice session. “The only one that really knows is my lawyer and my family. But that’s as far as it really goes.’’ Kane, just like every other player at camp, took questions from the media –although none regarding the incident in Buffalo were allowed- during his allotted time slot.
As much coverage as the Kane story has received, and continues to receive, a certain star athlete with legal troubles in another sport, has made even more headlines lately, as his recent reinstatement to the NFL has greatly overshadowed almost every other sports story.
“I was watching ESPN the other day and I’m watching Michael Vick give his speech and after that you hear people say that he’s not really sorry and things that,’’ Kane said.