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Chicago Blackhawks: Kane Grand Jury Hearing Postponed

By Colin Likas

The strange, strange offseason of the Chicago Blackhawks has taken another twist, this one involving the rape investigation surrounding star forward Patrick Kane.

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Today was supposed to be the beginning of a grand jury hearing involving a key witness to the alleged rape, the female friend of the female individual who claims she was sexually assaulted by Kane. Now, The Buffalo News is reporting the grand jury proceedings, which were set to begin at 1 p.m. Central time, have been postponed.

The outlet cites three current and former law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation. Interestingly, the short Buffalo News article also goes on to say there may be settlement negotiations ongoing between Kane’s attorneys and the alleged victim.

This is a surprising turn in the events involving Kane, which only seemed to be spiraling further and further out of control as of late. What the idea of a settlement means is not exactly clear. It doesn’t necessarily absolve anyone of any wrongdoing, and it doesn’t indicate whether Kane’s attorneys were afraid of the case going to a grand jury and potential trial, or whether the alleged victim just wanted to be done with the ordeal. Be careful drawing conclusions on the matter.

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Still, things have gone downhill for Kane ever since he was accused of rape at his Hamburg, N.Y., home in the beginning of August. He has since been excluded from NHL promotional activities, had his name pulled off an OHL camp and had his face taken off the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 16 video game. Ending this situation with a settlement likely won’t undo the damage that has been done regarding Kane’s image, though that should never be the main concern in such a situation.

If the two parties do come to a settlement, it makes it very unlikely we’ll know anytime soon what investigators on the case did or didn’t uncover regarding the alleged rape. Kane will very likely be told to stay quiet on the matter moving forward, or he’ll just make one big, sweeping statement and leave it at that. If they don’t come to a settlement, the guess is the grand jury hearing goes on as planned, and we’re back where we expected to be today.

Should a settlement be reached, it is unclear if that would mean Kane shows up at the Blackhawks’ training camp, scheduled to open later this month at Notre Dame. The Blackhawks are in a very awkward spot if a settlement is reached, as their most likely course of action before this latest news would have been suspending Kane. Since the primary reason for suspending Kane would be an ongoing criminal investigation into the 26-year-old, what do Rocky Wirtz, Stan Bowman and Co. do if the investigation ends?

This latest development creates more questions than answers. We’ll have to see if the two sides can work out a settlement (there’s no immediate timeline for this) and go from there.

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