Since October 17, Millions of hockey fans from around North America watched as Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane put up point after point until Tuesday night. The final tally reads 16 goals and 24 assists over the 26 game streak. It is the longest points streak in the NHL since Mats Sundin in ’92/93. In an era where people complain about the lack of offence, one would think that fans of all ages, walks of life, and teams would be celebrating such a substantial achievement. If it wasn’t for one off ice incident they would be
On August 2nd, Patrick Kane was accused of rape.
A 3 month investigation concluded earlier this year when Erie County district attorney Frank Sedita released this statement on November 5th and did not charge Kane with a crime.
Before that day, the court of public opinion had sentenced Kane to a life of being labelled something that can stick with you for the rest of your life. Despite never being found guilty and never being charged with a crime, the public treated him like he had done it
Sports are meant to be fun but every so often an incident happens that pulls back the curtains on professional athletes personal lives and exposes them to the public. Fans are constantly pushing for further access to their favourite players but the life of a millionaire in their early 20’s is not always that of a model citizen. People make mistakes and when they are in the public eye it magnifies both their triumphs and their flaws.
Patrick Kane is far from perfect off the ice. Every hockey fan likes to point out the 2009 incident with the cab driver but very often the people we are at 20 are not the same as when we are 26. He made a mistake and faced the consequences.
The two incidents are of course not the same. The cab incident was chalked up to a young man making the mistake in the public eye. This investigation was for a much more serious crime. It can be difficult for people to give you a 2nd chance but getting a 3rd chance is nearly impossible.
Over the summer this was the most important story that happened in the hockey world. This is about more than just a story. Celebrity or not, Kane is a real person and like I said, the reputation that comes with being falsely accused of rape is not something that is easily, if ever, forgotten. His accuser is also a real person and should not have been vilified the way she was. The people that did so should be embarrassed at the way they conducted themselves. It is possible to believe what the accused is saying without shaming the alleged victim. You are allowed to have your view point without taking down the people that disagree with you. In no way is attacking either side conducive to maintaining a healthy dialogue on serious issues
Many people were quick to pass judgement. To a large number of them Patrick Kane is a hero and an idol. He brought three Stanley Cups to Chicago Blackhawks fans and quite often the actions of players on the ice allow fans to excuse their actions off of it. Players should be held accountable for how they conduct themselves away from the rink but teams have a much easier time forgiving a star player rather than a player just on the fringe of the NHL. On the other hand there were people that felt that by defending Kane, it was deciding that you did not believe his accuser.
Enough time has passed and in an effort to be as honest as possible I’m willing to admit that I believed Patrick Kane. He is not my friend, I have never met him, and it’s entirely possible that I never will. For years I have watched him play for the Blackhawks but I would never pretend to know the man. No matter what society tells me I should do I cannot see a person as guilty until it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he/she is. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a phrase that I put a lot of stock in. Perhaps it is a flaw in my character that I think this way but I believe that it is a fundamental right for people to be given the presumption of innocence. It would not have mattered what crime he was accused of.
I read article after article telling me that a person does not have to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that somebody is guilty. That is the job of the courts and the courts alone. By not standing with the alleged victim you are calling her a liar. By calling her a liar you diminish the importance of what allegedly happened to her and countless others around the world that have found themselves in similar circumstances. I believe every person that wrote those articles are entitled to that set of beliefs. I also happen to agree with a lot of the things said surrounding rape culture, and victim blaming. Sports has made strides to become a more inclusive and safe space for people from all walks of life and must continue to do so but by calling Patrick Kane a rapist, you put that label on him for what could be the rest of his life. Before a person has been convicted of a crime they should not be treated like a criminal. In no way do I wish to deter people from reporting crimes that have done to them and if he had been found guilty in a court of law I would have no problem with him being sentenced for as long as the legal system would allow.
But he was never charged with a crime.
It’s easy to say that people defended him because he’s a celebrity but would anybody have known about the incident if he didn’t have that profile? Nobody would have paid any attention to the story at all. Instead for 3 months Patrick Kane, his mother, father, and anybody close to him had to read that he was a monster. I do not know what happened that night but I do know that the evidence that was gathered from the investigation was not enough to make a case that Kane had committed the crime that he was accused of.
On October 17th, Kane scored a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets. What he did for the next 25 games is an incredible feat that should be celebrated for what it is. It is the longest streak ever for an American born player, the longest streak by an active player, and the longest streak in the NHL in over 20 years.
So if you’re a hockey fan you should be able to celebrate his accomplishment. And you should never feel ashamed for doing so.