Sorry for the non-Oilers post appearing here everybody, but for better or worse, this is my forum when it comes to writing about hockey, and this is a story that is relevant across the league. I hope you'll oblige me, and if not, please feel free not to read.
Yesterday's press conference held by the Chicago Blackhawks should be perceived by all to be an unmitigated disaster for the Blackhawks organization and the NHL. You'll notice I don't include Kane in that list. Honestly, I don't know what people expect from a person accused of rape, but nothing Kane said yesterday is abnormal for what you might anticipate a person in his position to say in their defence. Of course Kane doesn't deserve a free ride here, if he committed the alleged crime, I hope he's punished severely. Historical research indicates that, on average, less than 10% of rape accusations are found to be false, but that has no impact on Kane's guilt or innocence here. The only people who know for sure what did and did not happen are Kane and his accuser and I hope that justice is served.
The big issue for me in yesterday's cluster**** was the Blackhawks involvement, the comments from team President John McDonough and the team's lack of willingness to send a message about the seriousness of the problem of violence against women in North America.
The simple fact of the matter is that Patrick Kane may be a rapist. I don't know, you don't know and the NHL & the Chicago Blackhawks don't know. Given that uncertainty, my personal belief is that he should be suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. Your opinion may differ on that matter, and that's a fair and reasonable discussion to be had. If you believe Kane should be entitled to be in camp, I disagree, but I'm willing to let you make your case. I'd point out first though that Mike Richards had his contract terminated earlier this summer for a non-violent offence for which he had not yet been charged, so let's not pretend there's no precedent here. The deciding variable in this situation is likely Kane's value to the Blackhawks on the ice, and that is completely off-base.
What the NHL and the Blackhawks should absolutely not have done yesterday is provide a famous hockey player a public platform to proclaim his innocence and, without saying it outright, suggest his accuser is lying.
Kane: "Once all the facts come to light, I am confident I will be absolved of having done nothing wrong."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 17, 2015
In any other situation, I'd be tempted to make light of the fact that Kane used his substantial grammatical prowess to basically say the exact opposite of what he meant, but ultimately, the point here is that he's essentially saying "my accuser's story is false". Again, that's not uncommon for people in his position, but the fact that he was sitting at a press conference wearing Blackhawks branded clothing with Blackhawks logos behind him and that the statement is posted on the team's website is revolting as they are now (intentionally or not) actively participating in a campaign to discredit the alleged rape victim in this case. If you see it as anything less, you would be wrong.
McDonough dodged question about whether having Kane suit up for training camp is an endorsement that Kane is innocent.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 17, 2015
McDonough can dodge that question all he wants, but the fact of the matter is, the mere presence of Kane at that conference afforded him an outlet, sponsored by the Blackhawks, to proclaim his innocence. It should also be noted that if he did indeed sexually assault this girl, they are contributing to her ongoing suffering by letting Kane refute her statements in front of the world and rallying support among loyal 'Hawks fans who aren't able to control their personal bias.
Thanks, Ravi pic.twitter.com/7gAdL3z3Vp— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) September 18, 2015
The notion of consideration for the alleged victim in the case was completely non-existent.
The entire tone of the press conference defied comprehension. There wasn't even a statement from the team underscoring a commitment to supporting the battle on violence against women. They basically let Kane have his say and then tried to pivot to hockey and leave it behind.
What a huge missed opportunity by Patrick Kane & the @NHLBlackhawks to not make even a broad statement opposing violence against women.— Jonathan Torrens (@TorrensJonathan) September 17, 2015
If this was the intent of the press conference, why have the media availability in the first place? Why not just let Kane issue a private statement and, since they feel the need to have him at camp, keep him shielded from the media?
McDonough: "I can assure you that I am anything other than tone-deaf."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 17, 2015
I wouldn't be so sure of yourself there Mr. McDonough.
I provided a link earlier to a report citing research that typically less than 10% of rape accusations are found to be false, and I mentioned that that should in no way imply Kane is guilty. That's true, but what that information should absolutely do is inform the PR decisions of the Blackhawks in this matter. They absolutely MUST consider the possibility that Kane raped this woman. Regardless of whether it is eventually determined that he did or did not commit this crime, they should be ashamed of themselves for sitting him down in front of a room of reporters wearing Blackhawks apparel in front of a Blackhawks backdrop to say his accuser's claims are untrue.
I understand the logic behind wanting to support someone you care about during a tough time, and I understand the bias that inherently makes you want to believe in the innocence of someone close to you when they are accused of doing something horrifying that you want to believe they aren't guilty of. And it's important to state that it's entirely possible he isn't guilty.The fact is that the uncertainty in the situation is what should have dictated the actions of the league and the Blackhawks here. There was no consideration for the victim and the possibility that her claims are true.
Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks implicitly offered their support to the notion that the claims of the alleged rape victim in question are false, and that is just wrong.