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Chicago Blackhawks: Kane Excluded From Promotional Event

By Matt Barbato
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As the rape investigation involving Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane heads to a grand jury hearing today, The Buffalo News is reporting that the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks are severing their relationship with Kane on a marketing level. Tim Graham reports that Kane was not invited by the NHL to the league’s annual preseason media tour this week.

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“Not inviting the four-time All-Star to this year’s media tour helps the NHL and the Blackhawks keep their distance from one of the world’s most identifiable players,” Graham said.

This promotional tour involves 40 of the league’s best veteran players assembling to record television commercials and promos that will be used on the air during the upcoming 2015-16 season. However, only two players from each franchise are invited. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will represent Chicago this season.

Some think Kane wouldn’t have been invited anyway, but that’s sort of far-fetched. Keith is coming off an incredible season that was capped by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, but Kane has clearly been the more marketable player, and is American born. He would certainly be worthy of an exception to the two-player-per-team rule if this investigation wasn’t happening. The player selection is made in tandem by the league and the respective franchise.

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This isn’t the first endorsement Kane has been dropped from. Earlier last month, video game developer EA Sports took Kane off of the cover of its NHL 16 video game. Kane was supposed to be accompanying Toews on the cover after they won their third Stanley Cup together.

As the Blackhawks begin training camp Sept. 18, the short-term question is whether Kane will even be present at camp. The likely answer right now is no, as the Blackhawks could put him on a leave of absence until the investigation concludes. The grand jury hearing begins today in New York, but a former Erie County District Attorney stated he doesn’t expect a decision to be made on the case before the end of the month.

Losing those endorsements is bad enough, but could Kane be losing favor within the Blackhawks’ organization? Rumors have been swirling that the ’Hawks are considering shopping Kane, and Mark Lazreus of the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported at least five teams have reached out to the ’Hawks with an interest in acquiring Kane.

When the case ends isn’t what’s important. It’s the verdict the grand jury comes to that will determine how long this process continues. The grand jury hearing will determine whether Kane is indicted, which could lead to a separate trial. According to reports, all of the witnesses that were at Kane’s house in Hamburg, N.Y., the night of the alleged rape will be or have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.

At this point, the results of the investigation may not matter. The NHL and the Blackhawks might not view Kane as the desired face of a franchise, and certainly not as the face of the league.

Next: How The Blackhawks Could Miss The 2016 Playoffs

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