Scandalous, Hilarious and Outrageous Chicago Blackhawks Stories

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By Paul M. Banks

The 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks have been very good at playing hockey so far. They’ve also done a great job generating colorful headlines off the ice. Hawks players have spent the past year engaging in various behaviors that have made for AWESOME copy; from a sports blog perspective.

Tomorrow, they’ll commence their Western Conference Finals series against the San Jose Sharks. It’s the perfect time to look back on all the fun and interesting material the team has provided so far in ’09-’10.

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Vancouver Cabbies receive warning about Patrick Kane’s Arrival

vancouver cabs

You knew this was coming. The Chicago Blackhawks‘ Patrick Kane inspired stories that made the sports blog rounds twice within the past year. The first time was in August when he drunkenly assaulted a cab driver over 20 cents, the second occurred in January when he appeared shirtless in a limo with very mediocre looking women during the Hawks visit to Vancouver. So you knew a return to B.C. for the playoffs would elicit something along the satirical lines, right?

More after the jump.

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Pleasantly Uneventful Preseason for Patrick Kane

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By Paul M. Banks

For Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks, a nice, quietly productive training camp was exactly what the doctor ordered. After an arrest hurt his image, but left his personal freedom and financial bottom line pretty much unscathed, the focus surrounding Kane is back on hockey. Which is exactly the way he, and his organization, like it. Kaner’s Coach, Joel Quenneville, has talked quite a bit about the young wing’s improved speed and added size. I recently asked the star player himself about it. “I do feel faster, I feel like this is the hardest I’ve ever worked this past summer, so hopefully it will pay off on the ice,” he responded.

Some of that extra work came in a very high-profile setting, as Kane took to the ice for Team USA Orientation Camp. Kane talked about the extra work he got in at Seven Bridges Ice Arena with Team USA.patrick-kane-nhl10

“It was not really a tryout camp, it was more to get to know everyone, and we where on the ice everyday, for about an hour. Just regular drills, nothing too special, it was good to be there and meet everyone.  I knew about 10 guys coming in, and left knowing everyone, so it’s a good feeling. It’s crazy to think, because it’s such a high level that we’re going to be playing at, but we won’t be able to get any practice in before our first game, but that’s how it is- with the Olympics right around the corner. And if I’m a part of that team I’ll be grateful.”

Giant posters of Kane were prominently displayed at that camp, which was so attractive to fans that hundreds of potential spectators were turned away. Kane is clearly becoming the face of Team USA hockey much like he’s the face of the Hawks franchise. He’s also the image featured on EA Sports “NHL ’10,” and he’s been spent countless hours playing the video game this fall.

“Too much lately, I’ve been throwing away my afternoon nap to play the video game. But it’s worth it, it’s fun, it keeps me low-key and keeps me in the house, so I enjoy it,” he said in response to my question about it.

Kane expectedly spent much of his training camp at or near the top of the Blackhawks’ practice session score sheets. Fellow superstar Jonathan Toews was right there with him in all the major categories. So I asked Coach Joel Quenneville what the focus is for the headliners –the guys assured of a front line spot- in preseason.

“We want them to be competitive and make sure their games are at high levels, get them ready for the season. We want to make sure they don’t come and just use training camp to just be here. The way the lines ended up during the playoff run at the end of last year, everyone got to play in different situations with a lot of different guys…they’re two special players (Kane and Toews) that we’re going to need to be a big part of this team, but as a coach you welcome the options that you do have with those two guys,” Quenneville responded.

If Kaner is looking for a song to encapsulate his upcoming season, perhaps its 2pac’s “All Eyes on Me.” No player in the Olympics or the NHL will have the spotlight shined as bright upon him this winter. And when the Hawks take to the road, opposing fans will heckle him. Of course, on the other hand, a lot of people in this country have very short term memories, so if we see a couple “Hatrick Kane” nights early in the season, pretty much everyone will forget what happened in Buffalo on August 9th.

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Kane and his teammates finished the preseason with a 2-3-1 record, and open the 82nd NHL regular season against the Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland as part of NHL Premiere 2009 on Friday, October 2 at 11:00 A.M. (CT). The teams face off again in Helsinki on Saturday, October 3 at 11:00 A.M. (CT) before the Blackhawks make their 2009-10 debut in North America at the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, October 8th.

Team USA Stands by Patrick Kane

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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.usahockey-logo-pc3

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.

Patrick Kane Addressing Allegations

Blackhawks Kane Arrested

By Paul M. Banks

On Monday morning, August 17th, Patrick Kane made his first public statement regarding the incident in Buffalo and the allegations against him. He opened the Team USA Men’s Hockey Orientation Camp by addressing the media gathered to cover the event.

Here’s what he said in his statement to the media

“Because I’ve put myself in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’ve caused a lot of pain for my family, the city, the organization the fans…and for that I’m sorry”.

Kane also said that he couldn’t make any comment on the legal proceedings. For obvious reasons. His time at the podium was extremely brief and the Team USA officials here said that Kane would not be able to take questions relating to his ongoing legal proceedings during his media availability time here at the camp.

He will be available to the media today and tomorrow, but will not answer any questions relating to what happened in Buffalo.

What??!! Patrick Kane, Seriously?

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By Paul M. Banks

There’s some stupid 1980s power ballad, with a title I can’t recall by a band I can’t remember, but it’s poignant lyrics describe Patrick Kane today. “I just couldn’t believe it, when I heard the news today.” Obviously, I’m referring to Kane’s arrest at 5 A.M. in Buffalo, N.Y. on felony charges.  Officially, the 20-year old baby face of the Chicago Blackhawks’ franchise and his cousin, James Kane, were charged with second-degree robbery, a Class C felony, and fourth-degree criminal mischief and theft of services, both Class A misdemeanors.
In the main party area of Buffalo Saturday night, a cab driver claims Kane and his cousin grabbed him by the throat and punched him in the face due to a disagreement over CAB FARE! But wait it gets worse.

On a $13.80 fare, the Kanes gave the driver $15, and took issue with his keeping $1.20, instead of the $1.00 amount they preferred as a tip! Seriously, 20 freakin cents! I’m sure whoever coined the phrase “money is the root of all evil,” never anticipated that a man with a multi-million dollar contract and an infinitely more valuable and marketable public image, would damage it over a measly .20.

Remember, this is the same guy who appeared in his “One Goal” advertisement with a small child. That spot subtly promoted Kaner’s youthful look as a symbol of his perceived wholesomeness. Today, he looks about as wholesome as Bob Probert. So for Kaner, his agent, and his PR handlers, today was obviously catastrophic. But let’s run damage control for the other parties involved.

The Blackhawks-

This off-season has had more bad news than a Fox News Channel program about a Democrat. First came the mailing of the free agent contract offers, which were mishandled worse than an everyday errand on a “Curb Your Enthusiasm episode. Then the “reassignment” of former general manager Dale Tallon, a fan favorite. The new GM Stan Bowman housed Patrick Kane in the basement of his home during his rookie season, so it will be interesting to hear what Bowman has to say when it comes time for the organization’s official statement. And of course, the decision not to publicly reveal new Hawk Marian Hossa’s shoulder injury, when they signed him to a monstrous 12 year contract, the richest in Hawks history.

Hiding the Hossa injury pretty much validated the fears of Hawks fans who believed the team could become “Cubified” once they brought in former Chicago Cubs V.P. John McDonough (and with him his front office cohort Jay Blunk). Let’s take a look at the Cubification checklist

-Brilliantly marketed to become the hottest ticket in town. Check

-Created a huge following among sports die-hards and non-sports fans alike. Check

-Not disclosing accurate player injury information (Mark Prior, Kerry Wood etc.) Checkmate!

EA Sports-

We’ve all heard about the Madden Curse, but what about NHL ’10? The video game is set to hit stores next month with Kaner on the cover. I imagine Electronic Arts will have some colorful board meetings Monday morning

Team USA-

On the 17th, I’ll be at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Darien, IL to cover the orientation camp for Team USA Hockey. The entire American team will be there, including Kane. I have a feeling more than one reporter will ask Kane a question or two about the incident.