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Chicago Blackhawks: Bettman Comments On Kane

By Colin Likas
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Another day, another point of discussion in the rape investigation surrounding Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.

Yesterday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told ESPN that the league is not planning an investigation into the 26-year-old’s off-ice actions anytime soon.

The league has been pretty quiet about Kane and the investigation he’s currently involved in since news broke about it last month. If a settlement is reached in the case — something that was suggested Tuesday when the case’s grand jury proceedings were postponed — that may speed up the NHL’s future action regarding Kane.

You’ll recall that, on Tuesday, a grand jury in New York was supposed to hear from witnesses to the alleged rape and see evidence from the case, but that event was called off just hours before it was set to begin. The proceedings have been postponed for about two weeks, unless a settlement is reached before then.

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It isn’t surprising Bettman has yet to declare a course of action, as the criminal investigation and what it might turn up are so unclear at this time. Should Bettman and the league decide to suspend Kane in the near future, there would be precedence for it. Roger Goodell and the NFL suspended Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 after he was accused of sexual assault. Though he would not be charged with a crime, Goodell still saw fit to ban the Pittsburgh quarterback for six games, a suspension which was later reduced to four games.

The six-game suspension Roethlisberger was initially handed would translate to approximately 31 games in the NHL, if all leagues were created equally. If Bettman were to suspended Kane for any length of time — especially something like 30 games — he would almost certainly get blowback from the NHL Players’ Association, which tends to defend its constituents no matter the situation.

While Bettman wasn’t really willing to talk much about the Kane investigation, Kane’s agent, Pat Brisson, offered a comment after the grand jury proceedings were postponed.

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He told ESPN’s Scott Powers that he believes Kane is innocent, adding that the case has taken a toll on Kane since it began in early August. Most parties associated with Kane have been quiet or near quiet since this ordeal began — it was surprising to hear Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews come out in support of Kane on a radio show last week — so this outright proclamation of Kane’s innocence by Brisson is a little surprising. Sure, we don’t expect him to say he thinks Kane is guilty of a crime, but the fact that he said anything at all necessitates a second glance.

A lot of talk and not a lot of action. That’s been the theme of this investigation since it began. That could change soon, but we’re in a holding pattern for now.

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