Patrick Kane, the former No. 1 pick in the National Hockey League draft, is a fan favorite for the Chicago Blackhawks. In some ways the baby-faced Kane is the face of a franchise that is clearly on the rise. A talented goal-scorer, the 20-year-old Kane, who wears No. 88, has been known as a gentleman on and off the ice. Until now.
Press reports indicate that Kane and a 21-year-old cousin beat up a Buffalo, N.Y.-cab driver this weekend over a $13.80 fare. Buffalo is Patrick Kane’s hometown. It seems the pair gave the 62-year-old man $15 and asked for their change. When he produced $1, they demanded their 20 cents. (Patrick Kane, mind you, earned over $3 million this past year.)
When the driver said he didn’t have it, the pair began pummeling him, breaking his nose and glasses. Patrick Kane reportedly asked the driver, “Don’t you know who I am?”
The Erie County sheriff’s office says the Kanes were released on their own recognizance after pleading not guilty to charges of theft of services and criminal mischief and a felony charge of robbery in the second degree.
Now there has to be more to the story than this. Alcohol was likely involved, and it is possible that the driver knew exactly who Patrick Kane was and provoked him, though I doubt it. And in any event there is no justification for beating up a 62-year-old cab driver, even if provoked. Real gentlemen walk away.
For now the Blackhawks, who have endured one PR misstep after another this summer, say they are standing by their star player (who often requires protection on the ice from bigger, stronger teammates). Perhaps that is the thing to do until all the facts come out, but it doesn’t look good. If the charges are true, they need to stop protecting Patrick Kane.
Gentlemen may be in short supply in the violent world of the NHL. But there is no excuse for this incident, which after all didn’t occur on the ice but on the streets of Buffalo.
Sports fans may not require perfection from their icons, but we ought to have some standards. Here’s hoping the moral repugnance of assault for 20 cents in loose change sparks the outrage it deserves. Otherwise we all deserve to sit in the penalty box.
UPDATE: As details continue to dribble out like a hockey puck along the boards, it’s looking a little better for Patrick Kane, but just a little. The cabbie may have locked him and his cousin into the car until they paid their fare, and the supposed victim’s attorney says he may not press charges. I hope they’re not awaiting some kind of payoff.
So indeed the cab driver may have indeed provoked Kane, but it seems the response (beating him up, if that’s what happened) was a stupid, nasty overreaction. Like the Blackhawks, I’m awaiting further details. It seems there are no heroes in this sordid mess.